Julia’s House for Lost Creatures, by Ben Hatke (:01 First Second, Sept. 2014). $17.99, ISBN: 9781596438668
Admittedly, I’m a Ben Hatke fan thanks to the Zita the Spacegirl series; when when I saw that he had a picture book coming out, I jumped to review it. I knew it was going to be adorable as well as fun, and I was right – Julia’s House for Lost Creatures is a sweet look at friendship, individuality, and sharing responsibility.
Julia’s house comes to a quiet, seaside area and decides to settle in. At first, Julia enjoys the warm fire, toast, and tea, but soon realizes it’s just too quiet. So she posts a sign that states the house is for “Lost Creatures”, and in no time, goblins, trolls, ghosts, and more homeless or lost creatures show up. Everyone’s happy at first, but Julia becomes frustrated by everyone’s refusal to make a mess and leave it for Julia to clean up. When the noise reaches critical mass, Julia sequesters herself in her workshop, only to emerge with a solution that will make everyone happy.
The book delivers several sweet, but important messages – Julia offers her home to misfits of all sorts; all “lost creatures” are welcome there. It’s not an exclusive club, or a place allowing only certain types. It appeals to anyone – or anything – that’s been shut out somewhere else. And it brings home the point that everyone pitches in to make their home a happy place. Julia creates a chore chart, so all of the creatures know exactly what to do. I love these messages and I love Hatke’s art, done in watercolor for this book. It lends a soft quality to the art that makes the story even sweeter, more dreamlike. There are few, short sentences per page, making this a great read-aloud candidate. The font is usually black and fairly low-key, unless Hatke wants to make a point; then, the font is large and takes on the character of the sound, whether it’s Julia’s exclamation or the sounds of a house that needs some help.
This book is due out in September of this year, and I can’t wait to get it on my library’s shelves. I’ve already got a storytime planned around it!