7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #792: Featuring Laura Dronzek

h1 April 24th, 2022 by jules

“I’d like to know what a pelican thinks of a sandpiper …”


“When I visit my grandparents at the beach, we stay in a little house. It is so close to the water, you can hear the waves.” This is the voice of the protagonist of Kevin Henkes’s Little Houses (Greenwillow, May 2022), illustrated by Laura Dronzek. She runs up and down the shore, explores shells, and wonders about the ocean — its surface (“how it can be blue and gray and green and silver and white and black, all at the same time”) and what’s underneath (“fish as big as cars”). She’s particularly fascinated by the shells, what her grandmother describes as “little houses.”

This nuanced tale eloquently captures one child’s wonder at and reverence for the ocean. She ruminates on the waves, the birds she sees, and what the “walls” of various shell houses are like (and who once lived in them). Over the sound of waves, she hears her grandmother say something about “things we cannot see.” Her Grandpa adds, “The world is so big and there is much to know.” Many of these spreads are full-bleed, panoramic ones, the wide ocean in nearly every shade of blue and the waves that hit the shore the objects of the girl’s astonishment. (Spreads that feature vignettes slow the pace when necessary.) There is a kind of hush over these spreads because of the girl’s reverence for the ocean and its vastness, but there is also a dynamic energy, as seen in the ocean life — captured by Dronzek with sure lines and rich colors.

This is also a comforting intergenerational story, the girls’ grandparents a calming, loving presence. After telling the girl that “the world is so big,” her grandfather adds: “And someday you’ll know it all.” For now, though, she is content to think about everything she does not know, the boundless and mysterious ocean a compelling reminder to her of that.

Here are some spreads. …


“Sometimes I think someone is calling me. But it’s just the waves coming in, going out.
A whisper or a roar. I run up and down to meet them.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“Fish as big as cars, creatures whose names I don’t know,
lost toys, lost coins, lots of lost things that were cried over.”

(Click spread to enlarge)



(Two images above: Click either to see spread in its entirety)


(Click cover to enlarge)


LITTLE HOUSES. Text copyright © 2022 by Kevin Henkes. Illustrations copyright © 2022 by Laura Dronzek and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publisher, New York.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

1) Beautiful spring weather.

2) Long walks with friends.

3) Nancy Werlin’s newest novel:

4) A purple iris in the front yard.

5) Donald Antrim’s very moving memoir helping me make more sense of someone I once lost.

6) Chris Farren’s Bond-esque motion picture soundtrack for a motion picture that doesn’t exist. Track 6 is my favorite.

7) Crackling, popping chocolate.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

6 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #792: Featuring Laura Dronzek”

  1. Thanks for sharing Laura Dronzek with us. A new Kevin Henkes boo in the world.
    Jules, I am curious about crackling, popping chocolate.
    My kicks:
    1. Seeing Hamilton for the first time with hubs, oldest grand, and daughter.
    2. Watching Junco babies being fed.
    3. A new poem.
    4. Subbing.
    5. Sunshine.
    6. Playing Wordle with friends and discussing our word choices.
    7.Driving in the gorge today to see a friend.
    Have a great week.

  2. Jone, did you see Hamilton there in Portland? Safe travels today!

  3. Hi Imps! Hi Laura! Hello to the sea creatures!

    Jules: Sending comfort your way. That book cover is lovely. Say hello to the purple iris for me! That’s a fun idea. I love good score music.

    Jone: That sounds like a fun week of shared stories all around!

    My kicks:
    1) Water
    2) Instinct
    3) Honesty
    4) Preparation
    5) Cherry tomatoes
    6) Control
    7) Breeze

  4. Such multi-faceted kicks, Little Willow. As always, they start a story forming in my head.

    I will say hello to the iris for you. As of this morning, two or three more bloomed!

  5. Love these illustrations, especially the girl on the beach walking in the waves.

    Jules – that memoir looks like an intense and essential read, the chocolate looks intriguing and I LOVE Track 6 and the whole album, and the story behind the album.

    Jone – hooray for Hamilton, sunshine and driving in the gorge! Sounds like a great week.

    Little Willow – love kicks 3, 4, 6 and & 7 the most this week.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Cleaning out my garage.
    2) Which lead to a couple of trips to the dump. There is something so satisfying about tossing trash into the dump.
    3) The indulgence of gas station junk food.
    4) A sunshiny weekend.
    5) Watched Gone in 60 Seconds which was full of car chase fun plus the surprise of Robert Duvall being a supporting character.
    6) Slowly moving into my new office space. I love the hardwood floors and my 2 windows.
    7) Daisy and her happy tail upon seeing her friends at underwater therapy.
    BONUS kick – a former client texted me the news of their new baby, then sent a photo and it made my week. So happy to see my former client (and their beautiful family) thriving.

    Have a great week Imps!

  6. Rachel, I love those but especially the bonus kick. How rewarding it must feel to get that kind of news from someone you made a difference for. Happy new office! Hugs, as always, to Daisy.

    Have a good week, you all!

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