A mother and daughter turn a hopeless old house into a loving family home, with faith, elbow grease, and the support of their community.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia MarantzA young girl is very disappointed when she and her mother move to a house on an old street so run down that she calls it "the house on dirty-third street." First they move the trash out. Offering to take a neighbor's trash to the dump as well, they end up with quite a pile. Then they begin to clean. Our tired, grouchy narrator feels discouraged. They both miss the old neighborhood and friends. At church that Sunday, however, the neighbors answer her prayer for help. Soon many new friends are fixing and painting. Finally, "through the eyes of faith," they have found their "perfect home." The young narrator's skeptical face peers at us through a window on the jacket. Pastel, colored pencil, and airbrush create naturalistic double-page scenes that contrast the textures of objects with the tactile vibrancy of skin. Early scenes of ugly decay and accumulated trash are soon contrasted with clean brightness and containers of colorful flowers. The interactions with the helpful neighbors seem to promise a better future. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library JournalK-Gr 3—A girl and her single mother move into an affordable but dilapidated house on "dirty-third street," as the girl derisively calls it. With all the restoration the house needs, as well as feeling cut off from her former church friends, her mother soon gets discouraged and her optimism wanes. The girl suggests they visit a church nearby, where she asks her Sunday school group to pray that she and her mother see their new home "with eyes of faith." Soon, people from the neighborhood and the congregation turn up at their door to lend a hand, transforming the fixer-upper into the home the mother dreamed about and helping them make new friends in the bargain. The realistic pastel, colored pencil, and airbrush illustrations subtly and effectively move from gray and bleak to colorful, reflecting the family's growing hopefulness. While the story line is simplistic, it underscores the timeless values of keeping faith and helping others through hard times.—Kathleen Finn, St. Francis Xavier School, Winooski, VT
Kirkus ReviewsA girl and her mother move into an old, run-down house and dare to dream that one day it will become a cozy home. The story is tinged with an underlying heartache from the very start: "Mom said starting over would be an adventure, so I imagined a tropical island with palm trees and buried treasure. / Not this." All of the houses on 33rd Street are old, but one in particular is falling apart. The understandably crabby young narrator proclaims it to be "Dirty-third Street." Mother and daughter set to work cleaning and scrubbing, but there are so many other needed repairs, it seems hopeless. In a poignant example of a child's quiet strength, the narrator asks for help the next day at church. She wishes to see the house with eyes of faith; she wants to picture the potential instead of disappointment. Suddenly friends and neighbors start dropping by, each doing a small turn to help out. It's not "Dirty-third Street" anymore. Gonzalez's illustrations start pale, with a few tints of color and heavily sketched details. But when a spark of hope emerges, and the tide turns, cheeks are flushed and eyes start to sparkle. The sky blazes with a warm sunset on the final full-color spread. A tale of generosity, faith and friendship. Share it quietly within and with others. (Picture book. 4-8)
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