The Blue House by Phoebe Wahl

The Blue House by Phoebe Wahl
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Contemporary
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

For as long as he can remember, Leo has lived in the blue house with his dad, but lately the neighborhood is changing. People are leaving, houses are being knocked down, and shiny new buildings are going up in their place. When Leo and his dad are forced to leave, they aren’t happy about it. They howl and rage and dance out their feelings. When the time comes, they leave the blue house behind–there was never any choice, not really–but little by little, they find a way to keep its memory alive in their new home.

Starting over again in a new place is never easy.
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I adored the fact that Leo and his dad were part of a low-income household. There aren’t enough picture books out there about families who struggle to make ends meet and who live in homes that are leaky and creaky because the people who live in them simply can’t afford to fix everything. What endeared me to it even more was how matter-of-fact the narrator was about their social class and living situation. It was simply part of their tale, but by no means was it the focus or the most interesting portion of it. That was the perfect note to strike, especially for this age group and for readers who might be in similar circumstances.

Some of my favorite scenes were the ones that showed how Leo’s dad encouraged him to express difficult emotions like fear and grief. The father was so loving and supportive of his son no matter how much the boy struggled with leaving their beloved blue house and moving to a new home. Change can be difficult for adults, much less young children. Leo’s father couldn’t have done a better job of making that transition as easy as possible for his family.

It was delightful to see how the author mixed the sad moments in with happier ones that showed why this family loved the blue house so much and how they planned to keep the traditions they started there going after they moved away. There is definitely something to be said for remembering the past fondly and actively looking for the good in life no matter what happens next.

The Blue House made me blink away tears. I can’t recommend this poignant tale highly enough!

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