Ruth Krauss' 'A Very Special House' is a timeless classic that captures the idea of home as a place in the heart and mind. It is not the chairs, the tables, sofas or vases that do a home make. A house perhaps but not a home. A home is that place where we feel free to relax, work, play, build castles in the air and express ourselves creatively. The East17 song got it right when it said:
Been around the world But there's no place like home, oh baby Been around the world But there's no place like home, oh baby
For the little boy in A Very Special House, everything is very special.
There's a bed that's very special and a shelf that's very special and the chairs are very special-but it's not to take a seat-and the doors are very special and the walls are very special and a table very special where to put your feet feet feet.
He proceeds to invite some folks to this very special home - a turtle, a giant, a lion, a skunk and some monkeys and a dead mouse. The lion loves the cushion stuffings and promptly fills his tummy with them.
A lion fattens up
They and I are making secrets and we're falling over laughing and we're running in and out-and we hooie hoooie hooie -And we think we are some chickens then we're singing in the opera thenwe're going going going ooie ooie ooie
Just doing their thang!
Soon pandemonium ensues, with a snoring lion, dancing monkeys on the ceiling, the giant spilling his drink and the rabbit eating out a bit of door. Everyone is having too much fun and screams for more and MORE rent the air! The din and the fun go hand in hand and everyone simply wants more of this. Where is this wonder house you may wonder and our little boy in blue tells us:
Oh it's right in the middle-oh it's ret in the meedle-oh it's root in the moodle of my head head head.
Maurice Sendak's illustrations take you places and make you chuckle. The line drawings with blue in places bring alive the writer's words. The words and pictures seem straight out of a child's vocabulary and one can only marvel at the ability of this wonderful duo in recreating a child's imagination.
The owner of A Very Special House
I can remember being this drunk on fun madness, as a child and now as I see children fully engrossed in free play and hopelessly falling over with joy. Children have such an incredible imagination, where they imagine whole worlds in their head and play them out. All they require from us is the space to be and run with their imagination. That house then is very special indeed. A Very Special House is the kind of book that reminds us of a house whose sofas have been jumped upon, whose bedsheets have been sails of ships, where the stairway steps have become Cinderella's ballroom entranceway. Each element in the house seems to have been sprinkled with the magic dust of a child's imagination to truly become a very special home.