Maurice Shadbolt (text), Renee Haggo (illus.), The Mountain Who Wanted to Live in a House, Starfish Bay Children’s Books, May 2016, 32pp., $16.00 (pbk), ISBN: 9781760360030
The Mountain Who Wanted to Live in a House is an intriguing fable about a cold and lonely mountain who wants to live in a house. Walking into town with a “’woho woho’ kind of laugh” and a “rumbling tumbling sound”, the mountain frightens everyone away, except for a brave and sensible young boy called Thomas who sets out to help the mountain, solving the problem in a creative way and saving the town in the process.
This book is beautifully written, and uses wonderfully descriptive, emotive and engaging language to tell the story. Children will enjoy the imaginative element to this book as it is far removed from reality and wildly creative. As Thomas works his way through various possible solutions, there are moments of humour as well as sadness. The painted illustrations utilise a simple muted colour palette of browns, greens and blues which complement the story, although it is really the poetic nature of the prose that makes this book so special.
The Mountain Who Wanted to Live in a House is the only known children’s book by Maurice Sahdbolt, one of New Zealand’s finest fiction writers, and it demonstrates his special gift for storytelling. This is a lovely book which I would recommend for children aged four and over.
Reviewed by Rebecca Blakeney