This heart-warming book looks at a situation that faces many hard-working families who are able to just "get along" without having enough to put down on a house of their own. Sharonda and her mother are staying with aunt Janey, but they face on-going pressure to move out of Janey's into something of their own. Sharonda and her mother get help from their church family, who work with a group in town to build houses for those working poor who have jobs and show initiative but do not have the money for a large down-payment (This book is based on the author's experiences with Women's Build in Lexington, Kentucky). At first, Sharonda does not believe that she will ever have her own house, but finally comes the day when people begin showing up to help make the dream a reality. In beautifully illustrated watercolor and pastel pencil pages, Sharonda—and the reader—see the house take shape. Sharonda helps as often as she can after school, and eventually comes the day when Sharonda and her mom can actually open the door of their house and say to each other, "Home Sweet Home." As noted, this is a lovely story of faith in others and the determination of a group of people to have a positive impact in the lives of others. This is a wonderful book to have on the shelf of any home or library. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—Lyon's reputation for lyrical writing is well established, and the pleasing cadences in this moving story do not disappoint. Sharonda and her mother have worn out their welcome at an aunt's apartment. When folks from church announce that they will build this twosome a house, the child is dubious: "'Right,' I say. 'Like I'm going/to tap-dance on the moon.'" (The prose is structured in short lines, grouped to look and read like stanzas.) When Sharonda is permitted to hammer the first nail, she starts to believe. An author's note explains Lyon's participation with Habitat for Humanity in Kentucky, and the experience lends particular voices and authentic material to portray the effect of a caring community and the people who manipulate the power tools. Anderson's palette moves from a drab brick world to a vivid work site, accented with autumn leaves. The brown faces of the protagonists glow in the warm light. The wood is both character and design element. It is as solid a presence as a flower box that the heroine builds; it is a dynamic visual when beams, viewed from above, frame Sharonda's roof dance. When the bare bones of the interior spill across a spread, in all their depth and patterned glory, the home is a work of art. Certain to inspire others to participate in similar endeavors, this book will also resonate with those in need of receiving the grace illuminated here.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Owning a home is arguably the American Dream, and children share in it. Third grader Sharonda and her mother live in a room at her aunt's house. They are beginning to outstay their welcome when the church decides to build them a house of their own. Lyon masterfully tells Sharonda's story, unfurling the child's disbelief that her dream is coming true, the hard work and time volunteers contribute, Sharonda's excitement as she sees the house being constructed, her anticipation of sleeping there and the joy and peace she feels when she and her mother walk through the door for the first time. Anderson's watercolor-and-pastel-pencil illustrations burst off the page with energy and life, and readers will feel the thrill as the house goes up, step by step. The end pages depicting her current and future homes are wonderful touches. A heartfelt, welcome addition to any collection and a happy fictive complement to David Rubel's If I Had a Hammer (2009), which celebrates Habitat for Humanity. (Picture book. 4-9)
George Ella Lyon is the author of Trucks Roll! and Planes Fly! Now, Boats Float!, cowritten with her son Benn, adds a new mode of transport to this travel series. Among George Ella’s other books are the ALA Notable All the Water in the World and What Forest Knows. A novelist and poet, she lives with her family in Lexington, Kentucky. Visit her online at GeorgeEllaLyon.com.
Stephanie Anderson lives in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Her first picture book was Weaving the Rainbow, by George Ella Lyon, in which her art was praised by Kirkus Reviews as "exquisite."