Friday, 16 May 2008

Book Review! The House In The Mail

The House in the Mail
By Rosemary & Tom Wells
ISBN: 0-670-03545-9
Illustrated by Dan Anderson
32 Pages
$16.99 US dollars
Age level = 4-8 years

I bought this book for my daughter. She was fascinated from the beginning. She couldn’t quite believe a house could be ordered in the mail. The living conditions and what was thought of as“modern” amazed her. It’s a well loved book in our house.

This wonderful book is written in the form of a diary with drawing and cutouts by Emily Cartwright., age 12, Emily lives with her parents, younger brother and grandparents in a two bedroom house in Enfield, Kentucky.

However, as Emily and her younger brother, Homer, grew, the house became a bit too small.

That’s when Emily declared she was moving to live with her aunt in Chicago. Her parents dropped a bombshell on them at that point. “Emily,” said Ma, “you’re right. We do live tight as bees in a hive. But we are about to build a new house of our very own, with a room for each of you and one for the new baby.” Emily and Homer found out they would be getting a new house

and a new brother or sister. Their pa laid a catalog on the table called Modern Homes. It had pictures of houses. Pa told them every house in the book came in a put-together kit and theywould put it together with a barrel of nails. Now, they just had to agree on a house.

The houses all had names like Jefferson, Beckford, or Carlisle. Finally a house called the Lincoln was selected. It had something everyone wanted, a porch for ma, big kitchen for pa, a window onto the roof for Homer and for Emily, her own bedroom.

Pa sent a check for $2,500 dollars to Sears,Roebuck & Company which was the price of the Lincoln. Ma said it was their whole life savings.

There are copies of pictures from Modern Home along with some blueprints to view. The
illustrations in this book are all on a background of parchment yellow. (think old newspaper) One of my favorites shows a modern kitchen, for the 1920’s. It looks like a child’s play kitchen. A modern washing machine which is a huge round tank with a foot pump to drain the water out which proclaims “fastest in the world!”

Each page is set up like a journal filled with photos, drawings, dried flowers, sequins, buttons, or cut-outs. One could just look at the illustrations and understand exactly what the story is about.

On November 5, 1927, not long after moving into the new house, Joseph Cartwright was born. Emily is proud that her brother is going to grow up in the modern house. He will never know how it was in the old days.

What about the rest of the story? What other secrets do Emily and Homer reveal? You will have to read this book and find out.

Website = Rosemary Wells

Rosemary Well's Biography
Rosemary Wells (1943-) Biography - Personal, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights

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