The Yellow House, written by Blake Morrison, illustrated by Helen Craig
The Yellow House begins, "Every day we passed the yellow house on our way to the park, Mom and me and my little sister, Jenny. The house was on it's own. It looked old, sad, and rather scary."
When Jenny drops her teddy bear and mom has to turn back to retrieve it, the little girl is left alone in front of the yellow house and her imagination blossoms. A little boy in overalls invites her into the yard to play.
Surprises in the form of friendly, exotic animals abound until the boy runs into the house and the little girl cannot reach the doorknob to follow him. Sadly, she turns back down the path where she is reunited with her mother and sister.
While the little girl never sees the boy again, the book ends with her words, "But I know that one day he'll be there again, calling me to play." A magical moment or a burst of imagination, either way, and afternoon she will never forget.
A simple but strong story, the illustrations in The Yellow House do as much of the story telling as the words. Helen Craig's artwork reminds me of the detailed black and white work of Erik Blegvad, who illustrated Mud Pies and Other Recipes, written by Marjorie Winslow and the colorful, childlike style of Judith Kerr, author of the Mog the Cat books. Both combine to make a book that I can imagine children remembering well into their adulthood.