This book, like Where the Wild Things Are and Andrew Henry’s Meadow, is a fantasy of escape and return. However, while the children here do go a bit wild, unlike Max they are startlingly domestic (much like Andrew Henry, who also originated with Ms. Burn). Rather than having wild rumpuses, they create one cozy new home after another, enjoying each in turn until problems arises and they move on. The pictures are very detailed and add to the sense of exploration (we have the original version and have not seen the updated edition with new illustrations, although the cover looks quite simplistic). And the text is a pleasure to read aloud.
Until that spring Andrew Henry Thatcher
lived with his family in the town of Stubbsville.
He had a father and mother and two older sisters
named Marian and Martha. The girls were always
with each other. He also had two younger brothers
named Robert and Ronald.
They were always with each other too.
Andrew Henry was in the middle.
He was always with himself,
yet he didn’t mind.
He had plenty of things to do.
Andrew Henry likes to build things. But when no one in his family appreciates his inventions, although they have “many fine features,” Andrew Henry decides the next thing he will build is a house of his own in a distant meadow. Before long, eight other under-appreciated kids arrive, so Andrew Henry designs houses for each of them too, according to their interests. This part is great fun. The four days and nights of frantic searching their families undergo before the happy ending? Awful to imagine. So I point out that part of his plan was not a good one (the boys are especially struck by how sad and lonely Andrew Henry’s dog Sam is without him).