...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Last week I shared my thoughts on downsizing. Then something serendipitous happened. Layne came home from school with this library book.

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It’s Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent by Lauren Child. I didn’t realize until Layne brought the book home that the children’s cartoon “Charlie and Lola” was inspired by Child’s early books about the sweet English siblings. {Please forgive me if I’m telling you something you already know.} “Charlie and Lola” is one of the few cartoons I don’t mind my kids watching. I mean, seriously, is there anything cuter than a brother and sister who speak lightly and with an English accent? I think not.

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The book tells the story of a wealthy family that, after financial troubles, decides to downsize their house and life. Child affectionately refers to it as a “riches-to-rags” story.

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The illustrations are lively and distinguished – appealing to children and adults alike. It’s like Jenny Komenda jumped into the book and styled the rooms herself.

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My favorite is Hubert’s bedroom. I don’t think I’ve ever seen herringbone wood floors in a children’s book before. Besides the illustrations, the story itself is pretty inspirational as well. After I read the book, I asked Layne what made him choose it.

“It’s like us. We moved from a big house to a little house and we’re happier.”

I couldn’t agree more. I can’t wait to check out more of Child’s books. Do you have a favorite children’s author?

FYI – I wasn’t compensated to mention Lauren Child or her touching book. I just love sharing great finds!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

34 Comments

15.February.2013

Oh wow. I love this. I remember when we went from my mom staying at home to working and I know I would have chosen the first scenario over and over. That’s why I am a stay at home mom myself now.

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15.February.2013

Did you get all misty when he said that? I would have! What a sweet boy. And, I must admit, cartoons characters with a British accent are so easy to watch/have on in the background. Unlike Caillou…

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15.February.2013

Wonderful! My 2 favorite children’s books I like for different reasons. Beryl’s Box (http://www.amazon.com/Beryls-Box-Lisa-Taylor/dp/0812016734) has a values message that fits in with Layne’s book. It tells of a spoiled little girl who has too much of everything and is bored and moping. She meets another little girl of far less means who shows her how to use her imagination and have a wondrous time playing with a large empty box. The other just sounds delightful, an almost physical pleasure rolling the syllables off the tongue–The Pattaconk Brook (http://www.amazon.com/The-Pattaconk-Brook-James-Stevenson/dp/0688119549). We always loved the Henry and Mudge books, too, my daughter included. Those are among the few I’ve kept for the next generation.

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replied on February 17th, 2013

Beryl’s Box was my daughter’s favorite book!

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15.February.2013

Reminds of the Disney Junior show, Charlie and Lola. I bet my daughter would love it :) Cute book

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replied on February 15th, 2013

I think I mentioned that the cartoon “Charlie and Lola” was based on Lauren Child’s early books.

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replied on February 15th, 2013

Oh geez. That’s what happens when you try to browse the Internet while dealing with a three and one year old! You miss tons of stuff ;)

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replied on February 15th, 2013

I hear ya! No worries :)

15.February.2013

Oliver Jeffers! I love his books and his new video about his work is really funny and sweet. :-)

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What a neat book. I have a 14-year-old son and haven’t seen these books at all. I am seriously tempted to buy it (for myself). Sounds very cool. I completely subscribe to the message.

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15.February.2013

Dana,
I’m a long time reader. Just wanted to say that we (hubby and I) are very much inspired by your story of downsizing. While working on renos on our big house, we have come to a realization that it is too much, and it really doesn’t make us happy. We had unfortunately bought into the lifestyle that “we were supposed to have” but that made us miserable. So next week our newly renovated house is going on the market. We have not yet bought another property, we still want to take our time figuring it all out. But it feels good.

Thank you for sharing your story.

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15.February.2013

There’s an author named D.B. Johnson who has written a series of picture books about Henry David Thoreau that I thought of when I read your article. In “Henry Builds a Cabin”, Henry (the bear) questions how big does a home need to be and ends up creating a place smaller than all his friends suggest and he, in the end, finds it to be plenty. “Henry Walks to Fitchburg” is a favorite as well. The illustrations are fantastic!

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15.February.2013

I love this art! Very cute!

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15.February.2013

This book looks awesome! I love his nightstand and lamp. :)

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15.February.2013

We LOVE Lauren Child in our house. Charlie and Lola books (and he TV shows) are amazing – Charlie has really helped my 7 year old daughter be a better sibling as we go through the “terrible twos” with our little one. I’m sure your boys can relate to him too! Charlie’s endless (although not always perfect) patience and creativity is inspiring. Other Lauren Child books my daughter enjoys are the Clarice Bean books as well as her version of Pippi Longstocking. Goreous illustrations. I haven’t seen Hubert Horatio before so will keep an eye out for it.

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replied on February 23rd, 2013

Totally agree with Annie. Lauren Childs other books, Clarice Bean and her version of Pippi Longstocking are on my daughters bookshelves (who is also called Lauren!) along with her version of Goldilocks and the three Bears. In fact Charlie and Lola were my sons before hers as he also loved them. In fact one of the books helped him when he lost his first tooth – as in literally lost it by swallowing it! It helped a lot with how the tooth fairy was going to know!
We are British and in the UK so the accent does not affect us! It’s perfectly normal!!

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15.February.2013

This is so sweet and I love that he explained why he chose it. It looks like you guys are happier in your smaller house. :)

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15.February.2013

We love Charlie and Lola! We are going to look for this book. How nice that your son saw the similarity between this story and yours. :)

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15.February.2013

my two girls (7 and nearly-5) LOVE charlie and lola – we’re aussie, and my five year old speaks with a charlie-and-lola accent. no more yoe-gut in this house, it’s yoggit. and she uses absolutely a lot, in just the way and intonation lola (loe-la, not lowl-uh…) would. might have to look up this book too (although our move in a couple of months is in the opposite direction – bigger house with a second bathroom and a NORMAL SIZED PANTRY!)

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15.February.2013

That is so gorgeous. Thanks for this info I am going to try and get this book and read to my group at kindergarten

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15.February.2013

I am so impressed with Layne’s text-to-self connection (yes, I am a teacher)! It is wonderful that downsizing has worked out well for your family.

We live in a small home as well, and I find your blog to be so inspirational. Every time I have the desire to move or upgrade– which we could–I keep referring back to your blog.

If you enjoy reading that book, you may also like The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. It is a children’s classic so you may have read it already. However, if you have not, I highly recommend it. My students love, love, love that story and always smile at the end. It reminds me of your brick house and all the love and work you have put into making it a home.

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16.February.2013

◄-l-o-v-e-►
we are charlie & lola fans. i adore how lola says “CHA-lie.”
i’ll be looking for this one ♥

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16.February.2013

I blogged about our fave children’s book author here: http://flutterflutter.ca/2012/12/10/oliver-jeffers-this-moose-belongs-to-me/ I haven’t read any Charlie & Lola books… I’ll have to check them out! :)

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17.February.2013

We LOVE the book: Iggy Peck, Architect. Such a wonderful story!

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17.February.2013

We are HUGE Lauren Child fans in this house, and have been for years. She also released a version of Pippi Longstocking, with her illustrations and it is the all time favourite for my daughter. The Clarice Bean series are hilarious too.

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I’m always looking for great children’s books. I’ve even started a link party for them. I’d love for you to link up! http://whatdoesshedoallday.com/kids-reads-cats-and-pigs/

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18.February.2013

I love children’s books, and this one’s a real cutie!

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18.February.2013

Love Lauren Child, we have a Clarence Bean in the house just now. Some other authors already mentioned include Virgina Lee Burton (Expect you have read her but if not fantastic and many boys love her stories!), Oliver Jeffers, we are also huge fans of the Julia Donaldson/Axel Schaeffer duo and own about 10 of their books. Different feel but lots of fun and lovely graphics. I adore your blog, I discovered it towards the end of my last pregnancy, a little boy who is just 10 months. We are Canadians and have lived overseas and are currently finishing off our last year in upstate NY. We are always renting though expect to finally be able to buy in the next 12 months and we definitely subscribe to living in smaller homes where you actually use ALL the space!

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replied on February 23rd, 2013

Julia Donaldson is great!
The BBC have done several animated programmes at Christmas time here in the UK. So far they have done The Gruffalo and The Gruffalos Child, this time they did Room on the Broom. They stay very true to the books and the animation is exactly the same as in the books too. Try and find them if you can, they are wonderful to watch – my 10 year old son loved watching it at CHristmas as he loved Julia’s books when he was a toddler!

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18.February.2013

Oh how I love Charlie and Lola! I personally think Lauren Child is somewhat of a genius. We are reading the Clarice Bean books at our house right now (we share her fear of largish spiders!) and my daughter loves them. I hadn’t heard of Hubert before, so I’ll keep an eye out for him at the library. I have suddenly started to question why I’m in the rat race as well…perhaps Hubert could help sort some things out for me. :) Splendid post!

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19.February.2013

Child’s only wrote a few of the Charlie and Lola books. When the stories were made into a TV show she sold the rights to the characters, and writers for the show wrote nearly all the new books.

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19.February.2013

Madeline is a favorite of my daughter’s. Boarding school in paris intrigued her I suppose :)
As empty nesters we have gone from 4 bedrooms/3 baths “keepin’ up with Joneses” house in Atlanta to 729 sq ft apartment in DC while my husband finishes up his career. We call it our nest and have loved it for 4+ years. As we plan our forever home, I’m constantly thinking “efficiently small but with feels big” space. I’m a little afraid to go large again…ready to ditch “stuff” and concentrate on function then form. Dana, you have given me great ideas and inspiration. Thanks!

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19.February.2013

I agree! I also love this book. I have read this book when I accompanied my kid to the library last summer. The story was good and since it has very good illustrations, it made it easier for kids to understand what the story is all about. Most importantly, the lesson that the kids learn when they read the book is just so touching. Kids realize at their early age what’s more important than material things. “It’s like us. We moved from a big house to a little house and we’re happier.” Very smart answer!

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22.March.2013

My 3 year daughter recently caught Charlie and Lola and I thought I had heard of it and checked back on your post! It is so cute, I am finding myself sitting and watching with her!

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