Books » Too Tall Houses
Too Tall Houses
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Viking 2012

Awards and honors for Too Tall Houses:
2013 E.B. White Read-Aloud Honor
CLC Book Award 2013
2013 Chickadee Award
Owl and Rabbit are good friends and neighbors and live happily in two small houses next to each other....
Until Rabbit's garden grows a little too tall and blocks Owl's view. Now Owl isn't so happy. Maybe building a bigger house will solve the problem. But now Rabbit isn't happy. Maybe building HIS house taller will be the solution. And before long, there are two very tall houses and two very unhappy neighbors. What till it take to make them friends again?
Gianna Marino, creator of Meet Me at the Moon, has written a modern-day fable that friends of all ages will relate to, because being good friends has its ups, its downs, and everything in between.
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Starred Review
Hilltop neighbors Rabbit and Owl nearly destroy their friendship when envy and one-upmanship take hold in this appealing story that reads much like a folk tale.
First, gardener Rabbit’s autumnal veggies block Owl’s forest view. Then, Owl’s remodel diminishes light for Rabbit’s garden. So it goes, until “soon they had / the tallest houses in the world.” When a windstorm assists in toppling their teetering, untenable abodes, the animals land in a pile of dirt, strewn vegetables and broken twigs. Their shared plight engenders renewed cooperation and friendship: “Alone they had nothing / but together they had all they needed… / to build one small house.” Marino’s full-bleed pencil-and-gouache illustrations beautifully capture the pair’s harmonious play, mounting rift and oh-so-satisfying reconciliation. The marvelously dizzying perspective and visual depiction of emotions mesh, in pictures that preschoolers can “read” with absorption. During their estrangement, Owl and Rabbit appear on opposite ends of double-page spreads or glare across the sky-high gap between their absurd towers. The well-turned, dialogue-rich narrative complements the sunny visuals, making this an excellent choice for one-on-one or group read-alouds. Smart design details include a tall trim size, the choice of an elegantly readable typeface and end pages that pictorially encapsulate the story arc.
Another winner for rising star Marino.
School Library Journal, Starred Review
K-Gr 2–Owl and Rabbit live side by side in two small huts. Rabbit tends to his vegetable garden and Owl perches on the roof, gazing at the forest. Trouble starts when Rabbit’s plants grow too tall, blocking Owl’s vista. Angry Owl makes his abode taller, Rabbit follows suit, and a construction race ensues. When the houses become impossibly sky-high, cartoonishly looming over continents, a formidable wind blows them down. With their dwellings in ruins, the former friends wisely decide that it is much better to join forces and build one small house, where they settle in harmony. Laid out in spreads, the illustrations feature impeccably detailed pencil drawings combined with sumptuously colored gouache backgrounds. The animals are full of heartfelt emotions, from anger and frustration to happy contentment. Marino interjects a few humorous details throughout the story–the expressions of grumpy Owl getting watered by Rabbit or flying with a squashed tomato on his head are priceless. This story about friendship and togetherness contains a great lesson without being didactic or moralizing and should be welcome in most collections.Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY
Publisher's Weekly
Marino's (Meet Me at the Moon) gouache and pencil spreads feature sun-baked color, lots of movement, and wide Southwestern vistas; they provide most of the story's kick. Rabbit's flat-topped brick house looks like a small pueblo, while his neighbor Owl's dwelling is an intricately woven covered nest. The two animals have been friends for ages, but now there's a conflict: "Rabbit!" cries Owl. "Your garden is growing too tall. I can't see the forest!" Owl adds another story to his dwelling while "Rabbit watched and chittered his teeth." Rabbit retaliates, building still higher, and they're off, each outdoing the other until a spread shows two impossibly tall structures teetering far above Earth's surface, the rabbit and owl barely hanging on at the very top. Wind blows the houses from side to side, and vegetables and twigs go flying; fortunately, although the animals are falling from miles up, both land safely--and, of course, discover that cooperation is better than competition. It's a story with universal appeal and a very particular sense of place. Ages 3–5. Agent: Deborah Warren, East West Literary Agency. (Sept.)
2012 Kids’ Indie Next List, Top 10
“This is a beautifully illustrated, whimsically told tale that will resonate with children of all ages. Through the friendly banter of a clever rabbit and an ambitious owl, Marino skillfully depicts the downside of focusing on ‘ME’ and the benefits that come with focusing on ‘WE.’ While children will laugh out loud, parents can use this warm, light-hearted story to help diffuse the tug-of-war among siblings!”

Anderson McKean, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL

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