Thank you Jennifer Harding for a fabulous review of The Orange House. This review is published in IBBYLink 46, summer 2016:
Nahid Kazemi, trans. Azita Rassi, London: Tiny Owl Books, hb. 970 1 9103 2811 8, 2016, £12.99, 24pp. [Picture Book. Age range 3–8. Keywords: friendship; old and new; environment; heritage; fable; translation.]
On the cover, the house is cleverly depicted on the h of the title text, and in a further illustration above it that I assume is a view of another side. I am wondering if I like the rather stylised artwork.
On opening the book, white trees and the house at the top, with multiple birds (which we are later told are ‘noisy crows’) at all angles below sit on a warm reddish brown background, the colour used on the cover. However, on the next verso the house has acquired an eye, a nose and a mouth.
The first line of text ‘The Orange House lives …’, immediately gives the house a life and personality.
The Orange House lives at the end of an alley with tall buildings on both sides. … The Orange House frowns down the alley at Turquoise. Turquoise was the first building to be built where an old house used to be.
Orange is the only one of the old houses left, the other new ones being Sky, Star, Sea and Moonlight. All the new buildings chat with each other, admiring each other – ‘What beautiful windows!, ‘The colour of the bricks is so pretty!’ and so on. These are tall buildings in contrast to Orange’s single storey. Turquoise tries to draw Orange into the conversation but Orange doesn’t reply. The others also try to coax her: ‘What have we done? We’ve never hurt you,’ says Star.
Turquoise then remembers the past when there were other houses like Orange, gardens full of trees, also ponds, fish and birds. He continues with the history of destruction of the old buildings and environment, and its replacement with Sky and the others.
So now there is an appreciation on the part of the new buildings for Orange, as she retains her pretty garden, and sympathy for her. However, a new threat to Orange appears. This causes all the houses to work together and for all to become friends.
This is a fable with a message that is not thrust at you but told in such a way as to show that there are many sides to any rift. An older person reading this story to a young child will not need to point out the moral, the child will understand through the excellent telling of the story.
The illustrations are all in warm colours and you will have to judge them for yourself, according to your taste.
The text font is large and slightly cursive, and I think a beginner will follow it and like it.
Nahid Kazemi was born in Iran, although currently lives in Canada, and is among a group of Iranian children’s book illustrators published by Iranian Tiny Owl Books, now based in the UK. See ‘The Little Black Fish and other stories: Iranian illustrated children’s books – in pictures’ introduced by David Almond: www.theguardian.com/childrens-
Buy this book: here
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More to read about Nahid Kazemi:
- Edinburgh Book Festival with Nahid Kazemi. A blog post. Link
- A photo gallery of Nahid’s event in London. Link
- Story and craft event with Nahid in London. A blog post. Link
- Read an interview with her here
- I saw the actual Orange House! The story behind the creation of The Orange House.Link
- A gallery of Nahid’s beautiful illustrations. Link
- Un-stereotypical and visually intriguing. A review by Jane Doonan for UK Scool Library Association(UKSLA). Link
- A review of this book by Jill Bennett, here.
- An interview with Nahid Kazemi, illustrator & author of this book, here.
- A review by Parents in Touch, here.
- A review by Read it Daddy. here.
- A review by Let Them Be Small, here.
- A review by Outside In World. here.
- I saw the actual Orange House. Here
- With friendship you can overcome everything. Link