Thursday, October 11, 2018

Owen and Eleanor move in by H. M. Bouwman, illustrated by Charlie Alder

Two very different families learn to live together in this new beginning chapter book series.

Eleanor is not happy about moving; they have to share a house with another family (it's a two-level duplex), she had to leave her treehouse behind, and her fish, Scrumpy the Fourth, died on the way. When she meets Owen, she's intrigued; he's homeschooled, has some cool ideas, and is very excited to have a new friend his own age right there! Eleanor decides he's just the right person to help in her plan... to run away back to her old home.

It's very rare to find children's literature where faith is included in the story; not as a proselytizing tool or the focus, but as an everyday part of life. There are almost as few books that include homeschooling! Eleanor's family is black and conventionally religious; Owen's family is white and have a more general spirituality. The kids ask matter of fact questions - that's not the way we pray, why are you homeschooled - and talk casually with their parents about religious ideas. It doesn't overshadow the main plot of the story, which is quirky Eleanor's determination to bury Scrumpy back at her old house (and move back there) and Owen's worries about keeping his new friend. Black and white sketches, mostly of various items, are scattered throughout the book.

Verdict: This stands out as a well-written book with a strong sense of diversity and inclusion. The humor and plot will also appeal to young readers who will be able to recognize their own concerns and trials throughout the story. Definitely fills a gap in beginning chapter books; strongly recommended.

ISBN: 9781506439723; Published 2018 by Sparkhouse Family/Beaming Books; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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