Too Tall Houses by Gianna Marino

Rabbit and Owl are good friends who live side by side on top of a hill. All’s well until Rabbit’s vegetable farm starts growing too tall, blocking Owl’s view of the forest. So Owl decides to make his house taller, which in turn ends up blocking the sun for Rabbit’s garden. Soon, the two are embroiled in a bitter house-building one-upmanship that is headed for disaster.

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It’s no secret that neighbourly relations can be tricky, since it involves the delicate balance of reserving the right to do as we please within our own private spaces, while ensuring that our actions and behaviour do not negatively impact the neighbours due to their close proximity. And, as this cautionary tale shows, it’s easy for petty conflicts to quickly escalate to ridiculous proportions when both parties are so blinded by their own self-interests that they fail to consider the common good.

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The illustrations in Too Tall Houses are stunning — the characters are beautifully expressive (the growing friction between Rabbit and Owl, especially, feels true to life), and I love the warm, autumnal colour palette used throughout the pages. Thanks to the author’s sumptuous imagination and deft writing, the message about achieving harmony through peaceful compromise soars without seeming too didactic. After all, if community spirit and common sense prevailed more often in real life, the world would be a much better place.

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