When Max was 11, his Christmas Eve book was Wildwood by Colin Meloy (who is married to Carson Ellis). Wildwood is a great story—we all loved it—but it was the illustrations by Carson Ellis that really moved me to buy it. They're so appealing and interesting.
Now, Carson Ellis has written and illustrated Home and it’s every bit as gorgeous. But this time it’s the sentiment that moved me.
Home as any place, as a reflection of who we are, as something that binds us to our community, as something unique and special—all of this is reflected in Ellis’s charming illustrations and simple words.
I love the equal values given to homes like those of a Slovakian Duchess and a Kenyan blacksmith. The two homes are on facing pages and carry the same presence of satisfaction and happiness.
There are lots of interesting contrasts in the pictures that lend themselves to pondering and questioning: contrasts such as the page that shows a tall ship approaching land with a wigwam. The two types of homes and the competing interests of the people are present and waiting to be considered, but can also be viewed simply as two more types of homes.
There’s a smattering of mythology and fairytales mixed in with real life homes, as well as a mix of ancient and modern homes.
Winston Churchill is credited with saying: "We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” Home is perfect for prompting reflection on the judgments we make of our own homes or the homes of others—that’s a good thing since our homes are so very important in making us who we are.
Aside from esoteric discussions about the nature of home, the way homes shape us and reflect us and so on, Home is also wonderful for storytelling. Each page is rich with detail and begging for its own story about who lives in each home, why they live there, how they interact with their home and so on.
The beauty of one's home as a place to be nurtured and to grow is poignantly on show throughout the book. It’s a delight to read for children and adults—a brilliant combination of reassuring and stretching.