Cover Image

A House in the Woods by I. Moore

Moore, Inga. A House in the Woods. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2011.  Print.

A House in the Woods is all about getting along, working together and sharing space. The story centres around a version of a nuclear family, in this case a male moose, a female bear and two little pigs.  Initially the pigs each have homes, but bear and moose each take over one of the pigs’ homes and are too big so they accidentally destroy them.  Then they all decide together to have the beavers build a house for them.  These, however, are not ordinary beavers.  They drive trucks and are paid in peanut butter sandwiches.

The beavers gnaw the trees down and then everyone works to build the house. In the end the moose, bear and little pigs move in and live happily in their snug house.

English author/illustrator Inga Moore has created an idyllic forest world in which all of the anthropomorphized animals cooperate. The animals walk on their hind legs, sit on benches , buy things at the store, wash dishes and sleep in beds.  Moore has drawn an odd combination of construction methods. On one page, the animals are shown raising frame walls with ropes and on the facing page, the building has notched log construction with walls built from the ground up.  Apart from that inconsistency, the images are lovely.  Many of them have details which will amuse children.  For example, during the construction, one of the pigs delivers tea on a trolley to the workers.  In the picture of the trucks arriving with furniture, there are lots of objects to find:  a trumpet, a record player, a meat grinder, a penny-farthing and several rather startled-looking squirrels.   In the store a tiny mouse with a blue and white apron sweeps the counter.  The house has a distinctly English cottage look to it with a steeply pitched roof and external stone fireplaces.  Set in the dark autumn-coloured forest, it looks like it might have been a witch’s house, but we know better, so it looks cosy and comfortable.

Overall, the book has an idyllic and comforting look and feel that sets a nice tone for a bed-time read.  This book is recommended for public, school and home libraries.

Highly recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Sandy Campbell

Sandy is a Health Sciences Librarian at the University of Alberta, who has written hundreds of book reviews across many disciplines.  Sandy thinks that sharing books with children is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give.