When I was studying at university one of my professors pointed out something both really simple and really profound. He said the things that are most global are also the most local — for example Coca Cola is possibly the world’s most recognisable brand but it is also a franchise, so it tastes different depending on where you drink it because of the composition of local water. There are packaging variations and even flavour variations (raspberry coke, anyone?) Another example is Christmas, a holiday celebrated worldwide, but just about every household that decks their halls decks them in a different way (foods, songs, variations on Santa/Father Christmas). You get the idea.
I couldn’t help think about this concept when reading Carson Ellis’ Home. Home is the place where one lives but within that framework there are endless variants that suit different needs for different creatures, “Clean homes. Messy homes. Tall homes. Short homes. Sea homes. Bee Homes. Hollow tree homes”. Ellis has been so clever about the way she brings this to life. Her illustrations are everything. She keeps text minimal and fills each ink and gouache painting with loads and loads of rich detail. This device, along with questions about, instead of descriptions of, certain homes (“Who in the world lives here? And why?), allows children to really engage with the images and tell their own stories about each place. My daughter loves the whimsical suggestion that a home could be a shoe (there was an old woman…) and pours over that illustration, not allowing me to turn the page until we have discussed what each of the many (very wild) children are doing in the scene (she is a particular fan of a certain bare bottomed boy on the shoe’s roof).
Carson Ellis brings us a simple yet profound meditation on the place that is both the most universal and most intimately personal, Home. Your children will want to pore over the illustrations and you will want to frame them.