Wouldn't we all love to buy inexpensive real estate and then watch its value explode as the urban environment around us "gentrified." Although I am certain that is not Jeannie Baker's main message in Home, I couldn't help thinking about how the real estate value of the home in question must have skyrocketed by the end of the book.
The wonderful Home is a wordless testament to the power of community to shape its surroundings. On each page we see the changing view out of the same window. At the start, a young couple with a new baby stand in their concrete backyard (just having a backyard in the city is amazing!), their view is a junk yard and graffiti-covered apartment building. But even in this initial image there are signs of hope: their neighbor is planting a small bush, a woman across the street peers cautiously out the window. The rest of the book takes us on a journey of renewal. As the baby grows into a young woman and a new mother herself, the view from the window changes from dereliction to beauty.
Baker's collage illustrations are enchanting. She marvelously combines intricately cut paper and preserved vegetable matter. The detail is amazing and each page offers much to be discovered. I found it quite enjoyable to spend time with my sons while they pointed out the changes from page to page.
I like that the urban renewal depicted in the book happens over the length of the child's life, not instantly or in a single season, or even over a single year. In the author's note, Baker rightfully points out that developing a sense of place and nurturing a community in urban space does not happen overnight.
Visit the author's website.
Read another great book about city revitalization: The Curious Garden.
Big Kid says: Look, on this page you see the billboard, then on this page the building is coming down and here you can finally see the park!