Jo S. Kittinger, Author
Thomas Gonzalez, Illustrator
Peachtree Publishers, Fiction, 2012
2013 Christopher Award and the Social Justice Literature Award
Suitable for Ages: 5-8
Themes: Moving into an older house, Repair and reconstruction, Neighbors, Hope
Opening: Mom said starting over would be an adventure, so I imagined a tropical island with palm trees and buried treasure. Not this. All the houses on Thirty-third Street were old and run down, but the one with the For Sale sign was the worst. I’d call the whole place “Dirty-third Street.”
Synopsis: A mother and daughter work to turn a hopeless, rundown, and dirty old house into a loving family home with hard work, faith, hope and the support of their new friends and neighbors.
Why I like this book: This is a moving story by Jo S. Kittinger that taps into the deep disappointment a girl feels when she has to move into a house that is falling a part. It is a timely story for children about moving, and starting over after the loss of a home due to divorce, job loss or weather events like floods, fires, tornadoes and hurricanes. It also is a story about hope, faith and community. Thomas Gonzalez captures the girl’s disappointment on the book cover as she peers through a window into the house. His beginning illustrations are drab and somber sketches with hints of pale pastel blue against the pen and ink sketches. The girl’s expressions are priceless. However, as neighbors and church members lend a hand to fix the house, color subtly appears in the illustrations. The House on Dirty-Third Street is an excellent collaboration between author and illustrator. Visit Jo Kittinger at her website. It is also a great book to share with kids during World Habitat Week.
Resources: The United Nations has declared the first Monday of October World Habitat Day , which will be celebrated Oct. 7. It is a time to recognize the basic need for adequate housing worldwide. Habitat for Humanity will sponsor activities Oct. 6-12, 2013. This is a wonderful opportunity for families to understand, sign up and participate in building and renovating homes in their local community. Lesson plans and activities can be found at Habitat Learns. Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn will focus their work projects in California, Colorado,, New York and New Jersey. The Carters have participated for 30 years.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.