The author used to live in the busy city where there were buses and trains, and people waiting for buses and trains.
Now he lives in the country and jubilantly takes us on a tour of his home, pointing out all the animals that share his space. There are stuffed bears and quilted chickens. His dog Wednesday watches cranes, frogs, and dragonflies live their lives. Coyotes and chipmunks come and go, and the world around where he lives is full of life, until winter comes, and there is nothing but snow.
Uniquely structured, All the Animals Where I Live is a picture book from Philip C. Stead, one of our most innovative author-illustrators, that is a meditation on life and moments big and small that shape our individual worlds.
In the meditative manner of his Ideas Are All Around, Caldecott-winner Stead looks at the animals in his neighborhood, and at his own life. He recalls the only bear he's ever met, a stuffed bear named Frederick ("My Grandma Jane gave me Frederick when I was three years old"). He remembers Grandma Jane's house, which had a room that "always smelled like maple syrup." He examines the creatures he sees, and the changing seasons ("Summer comes and goes. The wind knocks the apples to the ground"). Soon, there's "nothing but snow. And the smell of maple syrup." This quiet closing line evokes Grandma Jane's love and the way it follows him into adulthood; if she were a hummingbird, he muses earlier in the book, "she would fly to where I live now." Stead's thoughts wander, and so do his drawings. His dog's whiskers and mild gaze are captured with scribbly charcoal lines; blades of grass behind a cricket under the full moon are brushed in unerring ink strokes. It's a journey with an artist who sees the eternal in the everyday. Ages 4 8.