________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 20 . . . . June 6, 2002

cover Badger's New House.

Robin Muller.
Markham, ON: North Winds Press/Scholastic Canada, 2002.
24 pp., cloth, $19.99.
ISBN 0-439-98734-2.

Subject Headings:

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Liz Greenaway.

**** /4

excerpt: image

Badger lived in a cozy little house. Sometimes the door stuck. Sometimes the shutters rattled and the roof leaked. Sometimes the chimney clogged and filled the house with smoke. But Badger never seemed to mind.

"Nothing's perfect," he would say.

One night there was a terrible storm. The door groaned and buckled in the wind. The shutters shook and slammed against the wall. And the chimney clogged, filling the house with thick black smoke. Finally, the shingles blew off, letting the rain pour in.

The next morning when the storm had passed, Badger looked around his little home.

"This place is a mess," he said."It needs fixing up. But I can't do it. I'm moving!"

Badger found himself an enormous new house. It had leaded windows and double doors. It had carvings and towers and polished floors. It even had a grand stone staircase at the front.

"Now this is a house!" Badger beamed and hurried home to pack.

Robin Muller's latest picture book is a charming story that children and adults will enjoy. It begins with Badger happy in his cozy imperfect little home. After a storm emphasizes all the work he has to do on his home, he decides instead to move. Finding a grand residence equaling Toad Hall in splendor, Badger puts his house on the market with a sign that reads, "Handyman Special -- New owner needed for old house."

     Grandmother Mouse answers the ad and dismisses Badger's warnings about the repairs needed for the house, saying, "Someone will fix them for me." So Badger moves into his new house, and Grandmother Mouse moves into his old one.

     Badger soon finds that he is not happy in his new house. His furniture looks small and sad in the immense rooms. He gets lost in the endless maze of hallways, and, sometimes too tired to climb the great staircase to his room, Badger just curls up and sleeps in the middle.

     One day, Badger receives an invitation for tea from Grandmother Mouse. When he arrives, he is struck by how warm and welcoming his house looks. A tear comes to his eye. Grandmother Mouse tells him the house is perfect, except for the door that sticks. Not wanting to admit that he's never fixed anything before, Badger agrees to fix it and is delighted to find he succeeds. They have a wonderful visit, and Badger is invited to come again tomorrow. The next day, Grandmother Mouse tells him that the house is perfect, except for the shutters that rattle. And so Badger repairs the broken shutters, just as he does all other repairs on subsequent visits.

     Cleverly, Grandmother Mouse now has a house with no repairs needed. However, she now has a new problem. All her relations have come to stay, and now there is not enough room for her too. "I can fix that, too!" shouted Badger happily. And so, Badger's new house becomes Grandmother Mouse's new house while Badger's old house becomes his new one. "Now that everything is fixed, my little house is perfect," he told Grandmother Mouse the next time they met."Except that now it needs a friend to come to tea."

     "I can fix that," said Grandmother Mouse.

     The wonderful illustrations in watercolour and pencil crayons beautifully complement and augment the sure-footed text. Full of rich details and humour, the pictures tell their own story of Badger's determinedness in fixing the house as well as the developing friendship between the two. One especially fun illustration show Badger precariously balanced on a ladder hammering at the roof while wee Grandmother Mouse holds one end of a rope of a safety harness on the ground.

     Satisfaction comes on many levels in this happy tale of friendship and problem-solving as each friend provides a solution for the other's dilemma. Badger now appreciates his little house and has a new-found confidence in his ability to fix things. And he and Grandmother Mouse are now dear friends.

     A lovely story.

Highly recommended.

Edmonton, AB's Liz Greenaway has worked in bookselling and publishing and is currently at home with her small children.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364