With environmental issues on the forefront of many peoples minds these days, there has been an increase of children’s literature on the subject. My Body My House is one such book that focuses on the choices we make in our home that affect our body’s health. Written by Lisa Beres and illustrated by Juila Woolf, My Body My House addresses “sick building syndrome“, suspected as being responsible for almost half of the illnesses in this country.
My Body My House begins with a man living in a healthy home, surrounded by trees, heated with wood, and providing a garden with fresh vegetables. Soon, the Body (man) begins to notice his neighbors and feel the need to “keep up with the Jones’s”. He begins to remodel his home, wanting to do so cheaply and not concerned with the toxicity of the buidling materials. He replaces hardwood floors with carpeting, seals the windows, uses insecticides to kill bugs, etc. The House continues to warn the Body he is creating an unhealthy environment, but the Body continues to remodel. “‘But you don’t understand,’ the House started to gush. ‘My air now contains pollution and dust. You’ve added new things. I’m no longer the same. Look in the mirror, only YOU are to blame.'” The Body continues to become ill from the indoor air quality, until he eventually opens a window, breathes in fresh air, and discovers the error of his ways. “He reached his arms out and hugged his dear friend. ‘Don’t worry, wise House, these problems I’ll mend!’ Then he skipped out the door, not a minute to spare, spotting all of his friends as he leaped in the air. Butterflies, trees, birds, bugs-everyone. And the Body now realized we are woven in one.”
My almost six-year old daughter enjoyed My Body My House; however, there were a few aspects of the book she said she would have changed. First, the text does not follow a consistent rhyming pattern. Some lines rhyme, some do not. When reading orally, a rhythm begins to develop on some passages, only to be abruptly changed a few lines later. In addition, it bothered her that the character was referred to as the Body throughout the book. I understand the author’s choice of the Body to reinforce the parallels between our homes and our bodies; however, this choice created an awkard storytelling experience. The goal of the story to educate parents and children about the relationship of our homes to our health and the environment is good, yet the awkardness of the text makes me think this book will not stand the test of time as a great environmental children’s book. The illustrations match the light, whimisical text well.
If you would like to read more of this review, please visit Green Options: Green Family Values: My Body My House Review.