The Great Blue House

Illustrated by Georg Hallensleben Published July 2005

When summer ends, a family pack their suitcases and bid the big blue house farewell. All seems quiet. But soon the leaves change color; then comes the snow. A cat creeps into the house and curls up in the woodbox. A mouse tucks himself into a cupboard. When spring comes, the garden awakens, and by summer the house is bustling with human life once more. This unusual story about a summer house that welcomes all sorts of guests in the off-season celebrates the rhythm and cycle of the seasons, and reminds us all that we share our world—even our homes—with other living creatures.

Buy on Amazon


Booklist *** Starred Review

The creators of numerous acclaimed picture books offer another winning title in this deceptively quiet story about a well-loved vacation house…Another artist might have chosen subdued grays and purples to depict a house shuttered for winter, but Hallensleben’s beautiful, thickly brushed, impressionistic paintings evoke a sense of noise and life in rooms painted shocking blue and rich, bright red. Scenes of rooms glimpsed through half-open doors and of quiet corners extend the words’ message that many of life’s exciting stories lie in small moments and partial glimpses. A beautifully crafted story filled with wonder. —Gillian Engberg

School Library Journal

The seasons in the life of a lovely blue country home are the subject of this understated, contemplative work. Lyrical verses begin by describing the house in summer, filled with a lively family…The spare, evocative text serves as an effective counterpoint to the rich, painterly perspectives of the blue house. —Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA


With their signature simplicity and gentle insight, this accomplished picture-book team lyrically presents the life cycle of a house in nature. Hallensleben’s saturated Van Gogh-like colors visualize this quiet reverie.

Publishers Weekly

The book concerns an empty house and the inevitable passing of time, but Banks’s soft phrasing and Hallensleben’s velvety, blurred paintings make the place seem pillowy and inviting in deepest winter.

Chicago Tribune

Peacefully composed.