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.