HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: A House Is Not a Home
Author: Anne Liersch
Illustrator: Christa Unzner
Publisher: North-South Books, 1999
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 5 and up
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Liersch, Anne. A House Is Not a Home (published in 1999 by North-South Books). Winter is coming, and several of the animals in the forest are busy building a house before the bad weather begins to keep them warm and cozy. The hares gather stones from the field. Hedgehog helps Wild Boar get wood from the forest. Deer lays the stone wall and Fox mixes the concrete. They work hard but happily until the perfectionist Badger, supposedly an expert house builder, joins them and alienates everyone. Nothing suits bossy Badger, who insists they are doing everything wrong. Disgruntled, they leave him to complete the work on his own and work on their “crooked little cottage.” Badger builds a splendid house—but soon discovers that a house is not a home with no one to share it, and that cooperation and compromise are important tools when it comes to building friendships.
Although translated from the German by J. Alison James, the message easily slips between languages. The now lonely Badger comes to see the error of his ways and asks forgiveness. All ends well, with the animals, including the reformed bully who finally relents and builds a sled for his neighbors, happily residing together in the less-than-perfect but homey house. The detailed pictures with green, brown, and gray backgrounds are carefully rendered, subtly showing the seasonal changes in the forest. The story is a good choice for any children who sometimes forget that there are things more important than always being right. Also, it shows how all people need to have their abilities and effort to be appreciated, how everything does not need to be perfect, and how a home is a place where people love and respect each other. Just a house is but a shell.