A Place to Call Home

A Place to Call Home

by Alexis Deacon, Viviane Schwarz

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Seven little junkyard critters venture out of their small, dark hole on a charmingly madcap quest for a new home, with laugh-out-loud results.

When a band of brothers outgrows the dim confines of their birthplace, there is no other choice but to set out into the world on a grand adventure. Timid and terrified at first, they soon find ingenious ways to


Seven little junkyard critters venture out of their small, dark hole on a charmingly madcap quest for a new home, with laugh-out-loud results.

When a band of brothers outgrows the dim confines of their birthplace, there is no other choice but to set out into the world on a grand adventure. Timid and terrified at first, they soon find ingenious ways to simulate the safety of their familiar hole. They bravely cross a muddy sea, climb a discarded mountain, survive an appliance-like labyrinth, and finally reach the edge of the world. What will they see there, and will they ever find a place they can call their own? Loaded with visual humor and breathless commentary by the intrepid crew, this comic book-style tale of solidarity and daring will have readers giggling, cheering, and ready to see the world in a new way.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
What's not to love about a crew of hamsterlike creatures bumbling across a junkyard in ridiculous headgear? With rubber gloves, a faucet, and a paper towel tube shoved on their heads for protection ("NOW we're safe!" one says), they embark on a search for a new home. They cross an ocean (readers can see it's a puddle), a "desert," and make their way to the edge of the world—the top of an old dryer. In scenes bursting with physical comedy, Schwarz's (There Are No Cats in This Book) furry animals squabble, fret, and cheer each other on; in sequential panels, their running commentary appears in word balloons above their heads. When the junkyard dog grabs one of them, they balk ("We'll never get him back!" "There's nothing we can do!"), but taking courage from all they've done so far, they tackle the dog and rescue their sibling. While the creatures may trip over themselves, blundering through their tiny lives not knowing quite where they are headed, Deacon (While You Are Sleeping) and Schwarz never put a foot wrong. Children will clamor for repeats. Ages 3–up. (July)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The small dark hole we see on the first page of this adventure is the home of a family of groundhog-like characters. They soon grow too big and so must go "out into the world." Fearful, they search out a variety of coverings in which to hide, from rubber gloves to teacups, to feel safely concealed as they search for their new home. The slapstick mistakes they make on their way are a riot. When they exit from a clothes drier to see a brother carried off by a "beast" of a dog, they go bravely to his rescue. Finally they emerge through a hole in a fence into a double page big, bright world outside that they can call home. The text exists in the mainly hand-lettered speech balloons of these talking critters. Visually the tale unfolds in a variety of ink and watercolor rectangular scenes that set the tempo. There is a lot of comedy as they deal with the odd coverings each has made his own. Particularly funny is a double page in laundry where they believe they have climbed a mountain of a broken bag of detergent. The final stunning double page photograph shows the beautiful landscape that is the suitable reward for their courage. Adding to the attractive cover is the die-cut circle through which we view the heroes of the tale. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—Seven growing hamster siblings find themselves crowded right out of their home, which is a hole in a piece of furniture in a junkyard. Before beginning their search for larger digs, the magnificent seven don pieces of detritus on their heads, including a pair of rubber gloves, a cup, a cardboard tube, and one useless boot, which make them feel safer as the darkness reminds them of home. Only one of the crew can see where they're going and provides information on what he observes, though his take on things is often humorously inaccurate. To the pudgy explorers, a puddle becomes the sea and must be crossed, an old discarded desk is a mountain that has to be scaled, and a pile of sand becomes the desert. Hand-lettered speech bubbles and bordered ink and watercolor illustrations resembling comic-strip panels are entertaining and amusing. How the brave siblings outsmart the "beast" carting off their brother—who just happens to be hiding in the dog's water dish—and find a new home makes for a funny and spirited finale. Children will get a kick out of this one. Share it with Ed Young's Seven Blind Mice (Philomel, 1992) for a storytime about making assumptions from parts of the whole.—Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI
Kirkus Reviews
Seven rodent brothers outgrow their hole and venture out into a junkyard in search of a new home in this vastly retooled take on "The Blind Men and the Elephant."

Comic-book panels, speech bubbles and rapid-fire dialogue heighten the humor that builds during the brothers' tiny odyssey. Before setting out, the pear-shaped critters cover their cowardly heads with dish gloves, a tea cup, a boot, a paper towel roll, a lampshade and a faucet to recreate the reassuring darkness of their hole. Seeing little, they grossly misinterpret every juncture of their journey. A mud puddle could only be the vast ocean; a desk, a mountain; a pile of dirt, a desert; the edge of a rusted-out dryer must be the end of the world. Intermittently, one little guy blindly calls out, "Brother?"—a sweet touch and a dependable giggle. Hysteria builds and readers hustle to keep up with the jumpy dialogue between seven furry speakers and the often-cluttered illustrations, which somehow seem both static (all the head pieces appear in yellow, all the animals' bodies look very similar) and also busy with incremental changes. When a dog snatches one of the brothers, effective double-page spreads bring great dramatic crescendos, laughs and a rest for readers' eyes. Kids will cheer as the brothers use their heads (and head gear) to subdue the beast and finally muster the courage to find a home out of the junkyard, out in the open.

Fast-paced with wit and heart, this ridiculous rodent road-trip will appeal to future comic-book lovers—and anyone part of a tight band of brothers (or sisters). (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
11.50(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Alexis Deacon is an acclaimed author and illustrator. Beegu and Jitterbug Jam, both of which he illustrated, were named as New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year. He lives in London.

Viviane Schwarz is the author-illustrator of There Are Cats in This Book, which was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway medal, and There Are No Cats in This Book. She lives in London.

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