Two patient little pigs turn an unfortunate incident into an opportunity for cooperation and friendship in Inga Moore’s delightful new picture book, A House in the Woods. This comforting and tenderly told tale will captivate little ones and any adults lucky enough to share it as a bedtime story or group read-aloud.
The two pigs (who, like all the animals in this story, walk hilariously upright on two legs) have built nice homes for themselves in the woods, one a den, the other a hut made of twigs. After a stroll, the pigs are disappointed—though never angry or petulant—to discover that a moose and a bear have taken up temporary residence in their tiny homes and wrecked them in the process.
After pondering the “pickle” of their homelessness, the four friends decide to pitch in and build a big new house where all of them can live comfortably. A crew of beavers, all sporting hardhats, is hired to help with construction, and payment in peanut butter sandwiches is promised.
English author-illustrator Inga Moore is best known for the lush and beautifully detailed landscapes in her illustrations for new editions of the classics The Wind in the Willows and The Secret Garden, as well as animal stories she has both written and illustrated (A Big Day for Little Jack and Six-Dinner Sid, among others). In A House in the Woods, leafy fall scenes of the woodland are combined with wonderfully expressive drawings of the animal characters. In one picture, the two dainty little pigs walk hand in hand with the bear while the excited moose—arms spread wide—describes just how big their new house can be. As the building of the house begins, children will enjoy watching the progress as trees are cut, stones are moved, cement is mixed and timbers are raised.
It is hard to overstate the charm of Moore’s magical illustrations, rendered in pencil, pastel and wash. The soft glow of the woods, the pink haze of sunset after a long day’s work and the flickering flames in the home’s new hearth all add to the sense that this is a warm and inviting world. When the book’s final scene arrives, and the four friends spend their first cozy night in the new home’s moonlit bedroom, young readers and listeners will be tempted to curl right up and join them.