The cover of Home, a new picture book by Carson Ellis, shows that the concept of home is a fairly open one, depending on the resident. In gorgeous ink and gouache paintings, young readers are taken around the world, (and even out of it!), in illustrations of homes for people, animals, and even mythical creatures.
The narrative here is simple and straightforward, but even though the words are few on the page, don’t be rushed to turn the page. There are beautiful details to absorb in the illustrations, unified by a common palette of blue, gray, brown, and pops of red. Starting with a house in the countryside, the homes depicted begin with familiar ones. Soon, though, the homes tend toward the fantastical– a shoe with a big crowd of unruly children and one exhausted-appearing, gray-haired woman; an underground lair with a mass of golden treasures looked over by bearded men; a deep-sea castle guarded by knights on seahorses; and even a home with a window view that reveals a moonscape environment.
Some of the illustrations don’t offer an explanation, but instead offer up questions to the reader– who do you think lives here? I like that mid-book switch for a few pages, because it encourages children to come up with ideas of their own after several creative examples. Each page’s illustration feels like a story-starter in itself, another advantage of the sparse text.
Whimsical and visually arresting, Home delivers a thoughtful and creative reading experience.