Home might be a house in the country, an apartment in the city, or even a shoe. Home may be on the road or the sea, in the realm of myth, or in the artist’s own studio. A meditation on the concept of home and a visual treat that invites many return visits, this loving look at the places where people live marks the picture-book debut of Carson Ellis, acclaimed illustrator of the Wildwood series and artist for the indie band the Decemberists.
And here's the cover:
I draw your attention to the last image in the top row (a tipi) and the first image in the fourth row (an igloo). And... I sigh.
Once you start reading this picture book, you'll come to a page that says "Some homes are boats." But it isn't just a boat. No boat is just a boat, right? They have purpose.
That boat has been their home for a while, but they're looking to build new homes. On Native lands. On the home lands that belong to those three figures standing by that wigwam.
I wonder if those thoughts occurred to Ellis as she did this part of the book?
I wonder if Ellis imagined, say, children of tribal nations on the East Coast as readers of her book?
While a lot of people are sighing with pleasure as they turn the pages of this book, lots of others are rolling their eyes. I'm among the latter. And all the Native and non-Native people who are writing to me? They're of the latter group, too.
Home -- for its point of view -- is not recommended.
Update, March 31, 2015
On Twitter, I was asked how the book ends. Does Ellis, the person asked, make the point later in the book that the land belonged to someone else? The answer is no. Here's the final page:
The question "Where is your home" can be used by politically engaged teachers to have a conversation with children about that page with the boat and the wigwam. If/when you see that happen, please do let me know!
Another person asked me about people of color and if they're included. Here they are:
“The one exception is…a spread [that originally] had soldiers who ‘make their home in a trench,’ but my wise editor, Liz Bicknell, suggested that maybe a trench isn’t really a home. A home doesn’t have to be a place you choose to live, but to say that a perilous hole in the ground where you’re temporarily sleeping, possibly against your will, is a home might be pushing it. It also might be depressing. And not super fun for kids. Though, for what it’s worth, the trench in the illustration was kind of fun. There were soldiers playing cards and someone singing in the bath. War is not silly, but if, like me, you spent your childhood obsessing over M*A*S*H and Hawkeye Pierce, you might lose track of that sometimes.”