Julia's House for Lost Creatures, by Ben Hatke--utterly charming

Ben Hatke became a favorite author in our house with his lovely graphic novels about Zita the Space Girl, and we were tremendously excited about his first foray into the world of picture books-- Julia's House for Lost Creatures (First Second, September 2, 2014).  It did not disappoint, so much so that my eleven-year-old son said it was one of his favorite books ever.

Julie's house comes to town on the back of an enormous tortoise, and settles by the sea.  It is a lovely house, warm, with tea and toast, but Julia is lonely.  So she quickly makes a sign, proclaiming it "Julia's House for Lost Creatures."   And creatures come--all sorts of strange fantastical creatures.

It is too much of a good thing.  Before she knows what's happening, Julia is running a house party of huge proportions, all is chaos and mess, and Julia is being run ragged.  Clearly it can't go on...

So Julia makes a giant chore list, taking into account everyone's unique attributes (the little ghost is a natural duster, and of course dragons are the best suited for hot kitchen tasks) and everyone pitches in....but it takes one last guest for everything to be perfect!  (and owners of old houses, creaking at the seams like Julia's is, will want a guest like this one for themselves....)

The illustrations are charmingly friendly and detailed--just really darn nice to look at.   Julia's a lovely character, and the fantastical visitors are fun and whimsical.   The charm of it all makes this one that will appeal to readers older than the standard picture book audience; there is really nothing not to like. 

This is an obvious one to offer a child who needs to contribute more to the smooth running of the domestic side of things (I cough meaningfully in the direction of the above-referenced eleven-year-old).   But it's fun to read without driving any moral point home! 

Julia's House is currently on a blog tour--check out these stops for a bestiary of the lost creatures!

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher.


  1. You can tell I'm not a parent - as much as I liked this one, I didn't think of using it to convince a kid to do their chores!

  2. I was already planning to take this home from the library, but now I think this might need to be my daughter's birthday book from us.

  3. I loved Zita the Space Girl, so I know I'll love the illustrations for Julia's House for Lost Creatures.
    Thank you for sharing, I'm off to check out all the tour stops.

  4. The cover illustration is enough to grab me, and a house full of critters? The child-I-was sighs happily. I was filling out an order card for the library as I read the review!

  5. This one has such charming pictures - and the story is fun too! Hatke writes (and illustrates) winners.

  6. Oh, now I know where Shaun Tan's Lost Thing went! I'm so glad there's someone like Julia to welcome him!


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