In this charming tale, a little girl passes by an apparently abandoned old yellow house every day with her mother and little sister. But one day when mom is momentarily preoccupied, a little boy with a remarkable resemblance to the garden gnome invites the girl into the yard to see magical things she never noticed before. The goldfish pond hides a dolphin, there's an enormous green snake twined around a tomato plant staked in the greenhouse, and tigers frolic in the tall grass. When the boy runs inside the house, however, the little girl cannot reach the doorknob and thus cannot follow him further. Mom finally sees her and calls to her to come back to the sidewalk with her little sister. Although they still pass by the house each day, the little girl has yet to see the boy again, but believes she will someday.
Helen Craig's illustrations of ink and gentle pastels follow the storyline, leading the reader to more and more details as the girl enters the yard. Although the yellow house looks empty, with dark windows and a shaggy lawn, it does not present a frightening aspect, just a lonely one. As the little girl approaches the house, specific flowers and house details become apparent, as well as the individual colored stones in the cheery path leading to its front door. The magical sights shown to the little girl are spectacular, in contrast to the quiet nature of the previous illustrations; the dolphin's splashing covers the entire page. Likewise, a pelican roosting in an apple tree dominates the page as it munches on an apple. One will chuckle at the panda, tipping his green derby hat to her as he reads the Daily Times from the comfort of a trash can.
Use this book to encourage children to let their imaginations run loose. Who says tigers can't play in your front yard?
Reviewed by Jane Behrens, Librarian
A young girl takes the same path each day, along with her mother and baby sister. They always pass the same old yellow disserted house. Each day she wonders who or what could be in that house. Sometimes her mother would lift her up to peek over the old wooden fence to see what is in the garden and yard. Nothing there except an old garden gnome.
One day a small boy appeared and begged her to “come and see this”, that is when the magic began. She discovered a dolphin, a snake, and a panda that was reading the newspaper! And much more. The repetition of little boy’s voice and the magic that was cast makes this a great little story of wonder and enchantment.
Book brought back into print from 1988.
Recommended by Deborah McLaughlin, Librarian