About Alex T. Smith
Alex T. Smith is the illustrator of Home, My Mom Has X-Ray Vision, and Eliot Jones, Midnight Superhero. Of his passion for art, he says, “I can't really remember not having either a pencil or a paintbrush in my hand. However, when I was five, I wrote in my school report that I didn't really like art because I got glue on my hands!”
Age Range: 3-7 years
Publication Date: September 2011
BISAC: JUV039060, JUV039220
Book Format Detail: Paperback with Spot Varnished Cover
Retail Price: $0.00
Dimensions: 9-3/4" x 10-3/4"
Friends One, Two, Three, and Four happily share a house that is a home, until, that is, they get the itch to go somewhere different. They can’t agree on where to go—to be pirates on the seven seas, or to collect creepy crawlies in a deep dark cave? Of course, they stomp off in four directions, each carrying a piece of the house with them. The results, of course, are less than satisfactory. Their new locations aren’t as exciting as they thought they’d be, and they miss each other. Something has to be done, and they find a way to make amends and make their home even better than before. The author’s illustrations of the animal friends’ adventures enliven the pages and the text has funny moments that beg for extra conversation: have you ever seen a badger boogie-woogie before? For ages three to seven. —Teresa Scollon
May/June 2010, ForeWord Magazine
Is it possible for a reindeer, bear, bunny, and badger to dismantle the house they've been sharing, go their separate ways, and find fulfillment? One (conveniently, the animals are named after numbers) wants to be a pirate, Two wants to yodel in the Alps, Three wants to collect insects underground, and Four wants to party. “If I'm going,” they all shout, “I'm taking the house with me!” Supplied with pieces of the house, each sets off, but trouble soon surfaces: One becomes a pirate, but ends up sailing alone on his old front door surrounded by sharks. “Worst of all, his house simply wasn't a home when it was just a door.” When inevitably the four give up and reunite, adding wheels to their house allows them to stay together while satisfying their wanderlust. Smith (Eliot Jones, Midnight Superhero) keeps the story zipping along, effectively using repeating phrases, story elements, and scenarios. The pages teem with digitized colors, textures, and photos, but the overall atmosphere is quiltlike and cozy. It's a persuasive argument for finding creative solutions to problems instead of walking away. Ages 3–7.
February 15, 2010, Publishers Weekly
Four animal friends, named One (a deer), Two (a bear), Three (a bunny), and Four (a badger), share a house together until One decides that they should all take to the sea as pirates. Two, Three, and Four have different ideas, however, and the result is lots of arguing and the dismantling of the house as the four go their separate ways: “One took the door and stormed off to sea. Two took the walls and stomped off up a mountain. Three took the windows and scurried to a cave. Four picked up the floor and shuffled off to the big city.” Predictably, the friends’ experiences with solo life are disappointing and prompt them to reunite and to rebuild their joint home, adding wheels to enable the group to change location at will, this time together. The plot is rather thin and predictable, and One’s sudden desire for seafaring comes out of nowhere, operating largely as an excuse for the story’s direction. The essential message of friends learning to compromise is still a valuable one, though, and ther are touches of amusement in the animals (badger Four is unhappy with his reception at a big city party, where “it was as if they had never seen a badger boogie-woogie before!”). Smith’s digitally created art is lively and casual; multiple patterns and watercolor-like textures are layered to add energy and punch, but they occasionally lead to overly busy, unfocused compositions. Still, the four friends are cute as can be with their oversized heads, widely spaced eyes, and perpetually rosy cheeks, and the general effect is one of sunny cheerfulness. This might be a good addition to a house-themed storytime, or it could be used as a discussion starter about friendship and compromise. —JH
June 2010, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Four friends live in a house that is their home. Friend one thinks they should all become pirates and sail the seas. Friend two wants to go to the mountains and yodel. Friend three wants to live in an underground cave and collect creepy crawlies. Friend four wants to go to the big city and boogie woogie all night long. Of course none of them agree with any of the others ideas and they go their separate ways. When they all leave they take apart of the house with them.