Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Very Special House” as Want to Read:
A Very Special House
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Very Special House

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  534 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Continuing a two-year program to bring back twenty-two Maurice Sendak treasures long out of print, our second season of publication highlights one of the most successful author-illustrator pairings of all time. A pioneer of great children's literature, Ruth Krausspublished more than thirty books for children during a career that spanned forty years. Krauss and Sendak colla ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published November 13th 2001 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 1953)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Very Special House, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Very Special House

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  534 ratings  ·  74 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Very Special House
A book for the very young and young at heart. I would think this is one of Maurice’s earlier works. He is the illustrator here. I don’t think his style has evolved here. It seems he is still working that out, but the little boy in the story does look like a Sendak character.

Overall, I think the art and the story is very simplistic. I think this is one of those nice little stories where kids get it and adults miss it. I think the point of the story is wonderful. The little boy shows us all the a
Oct 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture

And this is why we don't take LSD, children.
May 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Maurice Sendak's illustrations
Wonderful illustrations, the storyline was a bit far out for me, I don't know what happened actually.

Read on openlibrary.
I had never heard of this 1954 Caldecott Honor winning title until I picked it up for my Caldecott Challenge, although I knew Sendak had a hand in an earlier Calecott book before he won one in 1964 for "Where the Wild Things Are." The text definitely reminds you of a small boy making up a nonsense story for his imaginary or stuffed animal friends. Maurice Sendak's whimsical drawings of the boy and all the animals make the story more special. Although I liked the illustrations, I wasn't a fan of ...more
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: parents reading with their younger children
Odd, very odd. I pitched it to our girls as a comparable tale to Harold and the Purple Crayon, but it really is much stranger than that classic tale. I see that this book garnered a Caldecott Honor nod, but I'm not entirely sure why. But then, I've never been much of a fan of Maurice Sendak's work.

The lyrical, nonsensical narrative is easy to read aloud, but it just didn't really appeal to us. The story was okay, but I don't remember reading it when I was a child, and I have a feeling this one
Aug 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks, house
Ruth Krauss’s chanting, child’s voice and Sendak’s child-drawings together imagine “just a home for me – me – me!” Where a child can put feet on the table, draw on the walls, and bring home “a monkey and a skunky and a very old lion who is eating all the stuffing from the chairs, chairs, chairs!” Uptight adults will not approve of all that, of course, but most children will be delighted by this boisterous, “special” house.
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sony-or-android
My youngest son often talked just like that, going about singing his random-sounding thoughts out loud. I just loved how expressive and open some children are, letting us see the world through their eyes.

And I love how Krauss (and Sendak) captured those innocent voices.

Reread of a Caldecott Honor book; for more discussion see the Children's Books group.
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kidstuff
All the manic hooie hooie hooies and dee dee dees only served to aggravate me.

Where are the Wild Things when you need 'em?
Dec 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
My favorite line:
"Oh it's right in the middle--
oh it's ret in the meedle--
oh it's root in the moodle of my head, head, head"
Samantha Zapata
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and what it had to offer, but it would not be my first choice to read to my classroom. Illustrations were great, but the book was mostly an orange color throughout besides the color of the boy. The drawings that were just black were very intriguing and there is no doubt it wouldn't hold students' attention. It seemed to have a rythym to a song or a medley because at first I thought it was a rhyming book, but it was more than that. It seemed like a song he was singing t ...more
Katie Fitzgerald
Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak made such a perfect picture book writing team. This book speaks to children on their level and celebrates creativity in an exuberant and empowering way. The text reminds me of the way preschoolers just ramble on and on about whatever is important to them, regardless of their audience and the illustrations are just wonderfully imaginative and full of life. For a book drawn in only four colors, it is surprisingly successful and appealing.
Amy Mcmullan
Oct 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Caldecot Honor Book - I honestly am not sure if I love this book or hate it entirely. This book is about a house and the animals and all that goes on in it from a little boy's imagination. Some made up words and repetitive words. The illustrations are fitting (by Maurice Sendak who created the illustrations for "Where the Wild Things Are"). ...more
Dec 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I love the way this book reads like a song that starts out oh-so-ordinary and goes wild with imagination as the little boy gives us a tour of his bedroom and a tour of his gigantic world of "other" not-so-normal things for a bedroom. ...more
May 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Really is very special
Ms. B
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, picture, honor
An odd Caldecott Honor book from the 1950s. Strengths - it's illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Even though Ruth Krauss is the author, it has a little bit of Where the Wild Things and Bumble-Ardy in it. ...more
La Coccinelle
May 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children
"Frenetic" and "obnoxious" are the main two words I can think of to describe this book. It doesn't help that I've got an earworm from the verse. I don't recall my mom ever reading this book to me and my sister (heck, it's old enough that maybe someone read it to my mom!) but I'm kind of glad it wasn't a part of my childhood. I have a feeling my mom would be glad, too!

Some people seem to think that Ruth Krauss remembers and captures childhood quite well. Maybe if your childhood included ADHD! The
Cassandra Gelvin
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Simple book, but good.

It's cute. A little boy describes a strange imaginary house in a sing-song fashion, where everything is special and unusual, and he has animals and a giant that play with him. It's pretty short and silly, with a little bit of repetition, but not too much that it gets really annoying. And it's made clear that the house is imaginary, as one of the last phrases is "it's right in the middle... of my head." The little boy gets to do things in this imaginary house that he might n
Sarah Adamson
A famous author and a very famous illustrator made an award winning book. I'm usually a big fan of older books and the award made me happy when my daughter picked it at the library. However...this book lost me a little.
It has good simple words for the early reader - but has quite a few made up ones that just confused her.
It has beautiful illustrations - but some didn't quite line up with the text. If every line of text has an associated picture then it works but not if only 9/10 do!
It is a fun
Maria Rowe
• 1954 Caldecott Honor Book •

I really love these whimsical drawings by Maurice Sendak, but I don’t like or get the text by Ruth Krauss. The nonsensical words just don’t appeal to me. All the pages are yellow, which is my least favorite color, but I really like it because so many children’s book have white pages. It’s just sort of fun and different, and the addition of blue is really nice. Zero stars for the text, but five for the illustrations!

Materials used: unlisted
Typeface used: unlisted
Mar 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
The illustrations in this book are very lively and energetic, but not Sendak's best work. Most of the pictures are black ink sketches on a light orange background. Only the little boy's clothes have color: a white shirt and blue overalls. The text is more a poem than a story, in which the little boy shares his thoughts about a dream house. And the illustrations extend the text by depicting more than is stated, such as how the door, chair and bed are very special.
(Caldecott Honor 1954)
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
It's told from a child's point of view, with made-up words and a sing-song rhythm.
I wouldn't want to read this every night to a kid who loved it.
Or maybe I wouldn't mind, but not because of the story.

Update October 23, 2018: I reread this book and did not remember it from 3 1/2 years ago. I LOVED it this round—And we hooie, hooie, hooie—so much that I raised my rating up from 3 to 5 stars and would do 6 if possible.
Cara Byrne
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
While I appreciate Krauss' unique voice and Sendak's legendary illustrative style, this book is just not engaging to me on several levels. I'm frequently distracted by the weirdness of the story (including a dead mouse in a coffin that the boy carries around) and the limited sketches instead of charmed by the premise of a boy who is embracing his imagination (as the "very special house" is his mind. I feel like I need to read Phil Nel in order to better appreciate this book. ...more
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I checked this book out of the library because of a more recently published book written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Chris Appelhans. I always read book dedications - they sometimes are the best part of a book. Here is Emily's dedication. "A Greyhound, a Groundhog owes a debt of inspiration and rhythm to A Very Special House, by legendary children’s author Ruth Krauss. It's for her, though I never met her, as a thanks." ...more
I liked the format for this book, the way the illustrations were crawling up the page and all around, but I didn't care for the story itself. A decent book, but not one I'm going to read again.

*Taken from my book reviews blog:
Jan 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nerdcott-2012
I have always loved this book, and both my kids loved to have this read to them. It is a very fun, whimsical book, with simple, yet entertaining illustrations. It demonstrates that illustrations do not need to be complex to be effective, and that even a silly story with silly drawings can be a classic.
Brittney Pierce
Sep 03, 2012 rated it liked it
A Very Special House is a story about a boys vivid imagination. This story is base off of a house that the boy made up in his head and he goes on this great adventure with all these different animals. This story was great! It reminded me of my childhood and all of the things I used to imagine myself.
A Caldecott Honor Award winner, but one that definitely didn't age well. The text is dumb and not something I'd ever want to read aloud. The art is okay but it's clearly the same exact art that the artist uses elsewhere, which kind of feels like plagiarism though this is almost certainly the early version. Not exactly bad, but I expect more. ...more
Miriah Mascetta
Feb 26, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book got a Caldecott Honor in 1954. This book was ok.. was not my favorite but it was okay. It was just kind of boring. He like had this special house in his mind where all these different animals were invited and it rhymed sometimes! the stuff he was saying. I would never want to read this aloud to my class, but the could read it as a SSR.
Shawn Thrasher
Oct 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
Talent comes in peaks and valleys, I guess, and this is valley for Sendak and Krauss. It's long on longness, and short on anything interesting. I suppose there is some sort of Harold and the purple crayon going on here, but the crayon in this case is a mustard yellow of incredible ugliness and produces passable cocktail napkin doodles. But not much story. Too bad. ...more
Ashlee Reed
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children-s-lit
Age: Primary (K-2nd)
Genre: Contemporary Realistic

I did not like this book. At all. There was no point it was random and I will not recommend. I picked it up for the award on the front and was highly disappointed. Even had my sister read it and she was like, "What? This was dumb." Not our taste I suppose.
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Big Orange Splot
  • Mother Bruce (Mother Bruce, Book 1)
  • Should I Share My Ice Cream? (Elephant & Piggie, #15)
  • A Busy Creature's Day Eating!
  • We Found A Hat
  • Runaway Ralph (Ralph S. Mouse, #2)
  • Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator!
  • I am Going! (Elephant and Piggie, #11)
  • Shadow
  • Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse
  • We are in a Book! (Elephant & Piggie, #13)
  • Teacup
  • I Got It!
  • If I Built a House
  • The Bears' Vacation
  • Robot Zombie Frankenstein!
  • Surf's Up
  • In the Forest
See similar books…

News & Interviews

  Some people love books. Some people fall in love. And some people fall in love with books about falling in love. Every month our team...
25 likes · 2 comments