HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Kildee House
Author: Rutherford G. Montgomery
Illustrator: Barbara Cooney
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s, republished 1993
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8 – 12
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Montgomery, Rutherford G. Kildee House (Published in 1949 by Bantam Doubleday Bell Books for Young Readers, a division of Bantam Doubleday Bell Publishing Group Inc.; republished in 1993 by Troll Associates, a division of Walker Publishing Company Inc.). Shy, introverted Jerome Kildee has retired from his job as a stone monument carver and builds himself an odd house under a giant redwood tree on Windy Point near Santa Cruz in the mountains of northern California’s Pacific Coast Range, intending to be just a philosopher. He has no near neighbors, but the closest on one side are the Eppys, a common farming family with six sons and a daughter named Emma Lou, while on the other are the wealthy Cabots with one son, Donald Roger. Both Emma and Donald, who go to the same school, start visiting Jerome’s cabin frequently, but they don’t get along well at all. Emma says of Donald, “He’s stuck up and mean.”
However, Jerome has other friends too. A couple of raccoons who lived in his tree move into the house, and a pair of spotted skunks set up housekeeping under his floor. Unfortunately, over the course of a year, as Jerome weathers all four seasons in his little cabin, the animals multiply so that Jerome ends up with a total of 25 raccoons and thirty skunks, plus an orphaned baby deer that Emma found after a mountain lion had killed its mother. Jerome may have to move out of his own house, so he asks Emma and Donald if they have any solutions to suggest that do not involve harming any of his friends. How does Jerome deal with all these critters? What will happen when the game warden stops by? And can Emma and Donald ever learn to like or even tolerate one another?
This 1950 Newbery Honor Book is a sweet, amusing story in a lovely setting. There are a few common euphemisms (golly, darned, gol-danged). Jerome and all the Eppy males, including the youngest, seventeen year old Ben, smoke pipes. Aside from that, kids will thrill at the antics of the skunks and raccoons as they learn about the animals and the way they all live together, especially with the charming illustrations by Barbara Cooney. And they will smile at the love-hate relationship of Emma Lou and Donald as Jerome tries to remedy the hard feelings between the two. The book makes the mountain location so real that the reader can almost smell the forest, hear the distant ocean, and feel with dismay the swaying of the redwood in a windstorm. Kildee House is a really fun and pleasant tale.