Lewis, J. Patrick. 2009. THE HOUSE. Ill. by Roberto Innocenti. Minneapolis, MN: Creative Editions. ISBN 978-1568462011 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-10]
This is a brilliant combination of sensitive, insightful poetry and exquisite fine art that tells the story of one house across the centuries beginning in the 1600’s. Poet J. Patrick Lewis has penned a series of serious, evocative quatrains that take us through the ages, with one quatrain and small illustration per spread alternating with gorgeous double-spread illustrations. It’s a powerful visual experience as the reader scans and searches the illustrations for details of story and history. The poetry, however, stands on its own, offering thoughtful nuggets and carefully chosen words to suggest more story details indirectly. This collaboration encourages multiple rereadings, as one sees how people change, how architecture changes, and how a society changes—and yet so much remains the same or cycles back again. Simple on the surface, with many layers for closer examination.
Read the poems aloud first without showing the illustrations and discuss what the children envision as they listen. Then read the book a second time while showcasing the illustrations. Discuss the impact the art has on their responses. Encourage the kids to choose their favorite moment in the house’s history to create their own rhyming quatrain poem (or other poem form).
Another poetry picture book collaborations between Lewis and Innocenti:
THE LAST RESORT. ISBN 978-1568461724
By Sylvia M. Vardell