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Michael Rosen is one of the most popular authors of stories and poems for children. His bestselling titles include Little Rabbit Foo Foo, Michael Rosen's Sad Book, This Is Our House, Tiny Little Fly, Dear Mother Goose and its sequel Dear Fairy Godmother. He has also written many collections of poetry including Bananas in My Ears. Michael received the Eleanor Farjeon Award for distinguished services to children's literature in 1997, and was the Children's Laureate from 2007 to 2009. He is a distinguished critic and academic, co-directing an MA in Children's Literature at Birkbeck College. He is often called upon to talk about children's literature and his poetry readings are adored by children and adults. He also presents radio programmes for the BBC. Michael lives in London. Find him online at www.michaelrosen.co.uk and on Twitter as @MichaelRosenYes. Bob Graham, Australia's leading picture book maker, has written and illustrated many award-winning children's books, including Max and How to heal a Broken Wing. He has won the Australian Children's Book of the Year Award an unprecedented three times and the Kate Greenway Medal in 2003 for Jethro Byrd, Fairy Child.
Rosen and Graham (Rose Meets Mr. Wintergarten) use a light touch to deliver an important lesson. In the shadows of an apartment complex, redheaded George sits in his cardboard-box house and won't let any of his multicultural cadre of friends come near it. He bans them for different but always personal reasons‘because they're girls, or too small, or wear glasses, etc. George's friends try to get him to open up his house by weaving him into their play: "We're coming in to fix the fridge," announce twins Charlene and Marlene, while Luther sends his toy airplane crashing into the house and tells George that he must rescue it. But George will not budge until, finally, nature calls. Taking over the house, his friends turn the tables on George and force him to see the error of his ways. Rosen has an instinctive feel for the way children confront one another, ponder, negotiate and form alliances‘every word of the trenchant text rings true. Graham's squiggly, cartoon-like illustrations convey George's physically aggressive stubbornness and the dismay of his friends, but leaven the scenes with imaginative details. On the other hand, Graham risks subverting Rosen's message on the last spread: when the entire gang finally convenes in the "house," the box proves a little too small after all‘it falls apart. Ages 3-6. (July)
Well written and beautifully illustrated * Red Pepper * "Delights with its humour and optimism." * Magpies * "Words and pictures both splendidly capture the essence of infant society." * Northern Echo *
PreS-Gr 2‘A cardboard box on an urban playground is the setting for this exploration of discrimination. George is in a cardboard "house" and declares that "This house is all for me!" As the other kids try to join him, he gives them his reasons why they cannot enter: no girls, no small people, etc. Race is not mentioned. The children try different approaches to soften George, but nothing works. Finally he has to use the bathroom, and when he returns the house is full. Charlene tells him, "This house isn't for people with red hair," and he shouts, cries, stamps, and punches. Then he realizes what the others have known all along: "This house is for everyone!" The playground setting helps keep the book from being weighed down by the important, but obvious, message. Graham uses watercolors and crayons to highlight the main action on each page, while gray-shaded drawings fill out the backgrounds. There are no lectures in the text; the kids work out the problem on their own using actions rather than speeches. The solution is not completely satisfying, as George learns his lesson only when he is given the same treatment he gave others. More important, though, is the children's unerring confidence that they do belong in the house, and their willing inclusion of George in the end. There are obvious opportunities for discussion and sharing here, but the book speaks for itself in a clear and engaging manner.‘Steven Engelfried, West Linn Public Library, OR