Planet Picture Book

One House for All

Three friends, Raven, Crayfish and Horse, want to get married but they still want to enjoy each other’s company. So, they decide to design a house where they can all live together with their families. Only, this proves harder than it sounds. Will they find a solution to meet their very different needs?

I love unlikely animal friendships in picture books (and in real life stories, too). And I was instantly drawn to the quirky trio of characters in One House for All: Raven, Crayfish and Horse. But there’s a rationale behind author Inese Zandere’s choices, too. Read on and you’ll see what I mean!

Raven, Crayfish and Horse are about to move onto the next phase of their lives – in this case, marriage and children – when we meet them. But they want to maintain their close friendships, too. Hence their decision to build a house where they can all live together. Only, how do you design a house to accommodate a raven, a crayfish, a horse and their respective families? With great difficulty, is the answer. Each character in the tale has a very clear idea about his own family’s needs, but neglects to consider the requirements of his close friends. Raven’s house design sees the three families living in the treetops three metres off the ground, for example. Totally impractical for horses and crayfish! Juris Petraškevičs’ illustration reinforces the point: Poor Horse straddles a tree branch to reach the friends’ treetop abode, while Raven squawks encouragement at him from below.

No, designing a house for a large wild bird, a bulky land-loving mammal and a small freshwater crustacean and their families is not easy, and the three friends are at a loss. They are at a crossroads, ready to move onto the next phase of their lives, yet unwilling to lose regular contact with each other. They know what they each need as they move forward, yet they cannot find a way of reconciling their needs with those of their friends. Until Crayfish comes up with an ingeniously simple solution to suit them all. Want to know what it is? Then get hold of a copy of this lovely book and all will be revealed!

The unusual, smudgy-bright illustrations are what initially attracted me to this title and they are – without exception – fabulous. Juris Petraškevičs uses a gorgeous palette of blues, peachy-reds, sandy yellow and greens. I love the sweeping expanse of colour, the quirky trio of characters in their little outfits, the forests of trees, the glorious blooms that burst forth from each page, oh, and the fish quietly swimming along in the river scenes. I could quite happily frame the artwork and gaze at it all day.

One House for All is a sumptuous picture book with a deceptively simple storyline that draws attention to the value of enduring friendships, the importance of considering one’s own needs and the needs of others, and the ability to accommodate individual differences.

The Book
One House for All by Inese Zandere, illustrated by Juris Petraškevičs, translated by Sabīne Ozola and adapted by Lawrence Schimel (first published in Latvian in 2014 by liels un mazs; this edition, Book Island, 2017)

The Author
Inese Zandere was born in Dobele, Latvia, in 1958. She is an author, poet and editor-in-chief of the publishing house liels un mazs. She has written more than 30 books for children and young adults and actively promotes children’s literature and cultural education.

One House for All was adapted by Lawrence Schimel, a prolific author in both Spanish and English, anthologist and translator.

The Illustrator
Juris Petraškevičs is a graphic artist, painter, book illustrator and animation film artist. He is also a professor in the Graphic Art Department at the Art Academy of Latvia. His work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions across Europe and in Japan.

Check out Juris Petraškevičs’ website for a peek at some of the fabulous illustrations from One House for All.

The Translator
Sabīne Ozola.

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