Mar 1, 2021

Book Spotlight: Home in the Woods

It's 1932 in Wisconsin, the height of the Great Depression. Six-year-old Marvel has lost her father, he has gone to live with the angels according to her mother, and she's lost her house as well. With her mother and seven siblings, Marvel discovers a tar paper shack in the woods. It's shabby and worn, but it has a root cellar, a pump that offers fresh water, a cook stove, and a large berry patch. Marvel and her siblings invent new games to play in the woods. They take turns doing chores like laundry and splitting wood and pulling weeds. Their mother bakes all sorts of treats to sell in town and cans vegetables from the harvest. Soon enough the shack start to feel like a home full of hope and togetherness. Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler is a gorgeous picture book. I can't get enough of the ink and watercolor illustrations. Everything feels kind of hazy or misty, just like what you might encounter when actually walking through the woods, and there several delicate details Wheeler captures, such as the sparkle of raindrops and snow, and the way the moonlight shines through the shack's window. Wheeler wrote this book based on the life of her grandmother, making it an excellent choice to introduce children to the Great Depression and to encourage young readers to discover more about their families. There is an awesome video you can watch here showing a behind-the-scenes look at how Wheeler created the book. You can also watch First Lady Michelle Obama reading Wheeler's first picture book, Miss Maple's Seeds, here.