'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 17 February 2019

Review: The House on the Mountain

There’s a house on the mountain where a loving family lives, surrounded by beautiful bushland.

It’s summer and it’s very, very hot. The air is still and the grass is dry. 

Fire is coming.

The House on the Mountain is a heartbreaking and poignant picture book about the Black Saturday bushfires that spread through Victoria, Australia in February 2009. 

It is the experience of three young children and their family, who watch, wait and prepare as the fire creeps steadily closer.

The deadly flames spread quickly, and the family must flee to safety, making their way through thick smoke and angry fire. 

A loving community provides shelter and support, but when the disaster is over, the family travels back to their house on the mountain. And what they find there is heartbreaking.

This is a very emotional picture book. In delves deep into the fear associated with natural disasters and shows readers what it’s like to be a child in such a situation — how things look, how things sound and how things feel when the world you know changes in an instant and nothing can bring back normality.

But at its core, the story is about hope. It’s about rebirth and rebuilding and finding courage to step back into the world when everything is raw and hard. And the subject matter has been handled with great care and with young children in mind.

Ella Holcombe’s moving text will reach deep within you as you read. The story takes you into the family’s world — into the children’s world — as you experience both the small and big things happening to them. Moments and days and weeks and months.

David Cox’s beautiful and striking illustrations help to guide and shape the meaning of the powerful words and make this important story so accessible for young readers and listeners.

The House on the Mountain is a beautiful and deeply moving story. And when you read the author note at the end, you’ll realise just how beautiful and deeply moving it is.

Title: The House on the Mountain
Author: Ella Holcombe
Illustrator: David Cox
Publisher: Allen and Unwin, $24.99
Publication Date: February 2019
Format: Hard Cover
ISBN: 9781760636968
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture Book