The House at the End of the Road by Kari Rust

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It was published September 17, 2019, by Owl Kids.

A young girl and her brother, Patrick, come to stay with their grandmother for the summer. Robert, their cousin, is there already. Right from the start, it was Robert who most fascinated me. He still does. There’s just something about him that tells you he’s a unique character who is full of all kinds of surprises.

The trio of cousins decide to visit the rickety old house at the end of the road. When Robert throws a rock at the window, a face appears. Certain it is a ghost, they run away leaving one of their bikes behind.

After they tell their grandmother, she drags them off to the house to apologize to  Mr. Peterson, her favourite teacher and owner of the house. He’s quite the character with a delightfully wacky sense of humour as you can see below as he greets his visitors for the first time.

Over time they visit with Mr. Peterson numerous times. He gives them gifts that are perfect for each of them. This relationship benefits all of them, but it seems that it is most important for Robert who is most devastated when they discover their elderly friend is gone. 

The House at the end of the road is a hybrid – part picture book and part graphic novel. There is much I love about it, but mostly it’s the characters. The adults are responsible, but kind and loving. The children are authentic. I’ve had a few Roberts in my teaching life and wish all of them could have significant role models like Mr. Peterson and Grandma.

I adore the art in this book. It’s gorgeously detailed. So much is revealed about the countryside where this takes place and about the characters and their emotions. There is a seamless union of image and words. Separating one from the other in this book is impossible. 

This book confirmed for me the importance of acceptance for all children. It reminded me of the special relationships I am lucky enough to have with my own grandchildren and of how important relationships between the oldest and the youngest of us are.

My only quibble with this book is the APPEARANCES ARE DECEIVING message at the end of it. Not only is it not necessary, it simplifies all the important nuances of meaning the book holds.

Your school library should have a copy of this one. 

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