Home, is the long awaited first solo title by Carson Ellis, the American illustrator and co-creator of the Wildwood books. It’s a subject that’s close to her heart – writing on the Picture Book Makers blog she says, ‘I love to draw homes because I love architecture. I love drawing buildings and all their angles and shingles and nailheads. I also love to draw homes because they naturally suggest narratives about the people (or what-have-you) who inhabit them. And I love to draw them because our own homes mean so much to us.’
The first Ellis home I encountered belonged to a boy called Dillweed. It was a quite horrible gothic pile that Edward Gorey had been scheduled to build in the 1970s, but never quite got round to.
It’s a macabre tale of child abuse, magic and murder, but Ellis can find the heart in even the most strange and forbidding of places. It’s something she showcases beautifully in the collection of 26 gouache and ink dwellings that she calls Home.
We visit every conceivable type of residence, from a cosy Russian nook right up to the home of a Moonian.
It’s hard to think where else you’d find a Japanese businessman in a hollowed out rock living next door and a Norse god. In Ellis’s world they’re perfect neighbours.
Ellis takes us to a roofed boot, the well worn fairy tale home of an old woman and her rowdy brood as she readies to ring the dinner time triangle.
We even get a peak at the Ellis family’s home away from home – the tour bus of husband Colin Meloy’s hairy atl. folk band the Decemberists. Look carefully and you’ll spot their children Milo and Hank grinning out of their porthole.
The varied locations are held together by a classic picture book device: a bird sets off from its nest on page one and passes through all the places it can conceivably visit – though internal logic prevents it flying to the moon or the underwater world.
The bird brings us right back to where we began, the home of Carson Ellis, where we find her at work surrounded by photographs and other inspirations that have gone to make up Home.
And as she looks out of the plain window in her own simple home watching the pigeon pass by on its journey, she asks ‘Where is you home? Where are you?’ The reader is invited to think about where they live. There’s no place like home. Especially curled up with a book like Home .
Home is published by Candlewick Press.