Hello, friends! Our book today is Everybody’s Welcome, written by Patricia Hegarty and illustrated by Greg Abbott, a sweet tale of communities built from acceptance.
A little mouse sits in a forest clearing, dreaming of a home for shelter and warmth. As he begins to build it, a frog wanders up, despondent over the loss of his own home pond. The mouse invites him to help build, and they will share the house together. As the project continues, more animals show up, looking for a place to belong; most have lost their homes or been turned away from their communities for being different. Together, they work as a team to build something to shelter everyone who needs it, creating a home that is more than walls and a roof, but acceptance and love as well.
This one had a wonderfully sweet message that is thoroughly needed right now. While the issues that lead the animals to the housing project are very storybook-oriented (Bear is turned away for being too scary, the birds are searching for a home after their tree has been cut down), there is definitely hints of how people can also find themselves in need of community due to their circumstances. It helps to draw a nice parallel to our own communities, and how diversity and acceptance can help them to be strong and kind. So it’s a bit of an odd choice that the finished product of the home is never shown; while this may be alluding to the fact that communities are forever growing and changing, or that home is not simply a building but the people who fill it, it still gives the story an incomplete feeling – I wish I could have seen the animals enjoying the physical fruits of their labor. However, the classical kidlit-inspired illustrations are darling, and JJ loved them. The length is also fine for any age, and the cutouts and unique page design make for some fun visual flourishes. So while the ending is a little abrupt, this one has a strong core message and some great visuals – it’s definitely worth a look. Baby Bookworm approved!