Goodbye House, Hello House by Margaret Wild

Goodbye House, Hello House

By Margaret Wild

Illustrated by Ann James

Allen & Unwin

Crows Nest, Australia

2019

ISBN: 9781743311103

Reviewed by Cath Young

“Goodbye House, Hello House” by Margaret Wild is a story about one girl’s experience moving to a new house.  It is split into two halves. The first half of the story tracks the girl as she says goodbye for the last time to the various parts of her home and known life. In the second half of the story the reader accompanies the girl as she greets her new house and says hello to a whole new world of “firsts”. The text is sparse and emotionally neutral which allows the reader to relate to the story using their own imagination or experiences.   The list of places or activities that the girl says goodbye and hello to is quite expansive. It is a welcome reminder to adults of how experiences such as swinging on a gate or jumping over cracks can be particularly salient to a child.  

The illustrations by Ann James, support the text with dreamily rendered landscapes and pictures of indistinct rooms in the houses, as viewed through open doors and windows.   The main character is given a name through the illustrations, inviting the reader to pay attention to the details.  The character of “Emma” is rendered with a simple black line drawing, highlighted against the subtle background colours. Similar to the text, this allows the reader to provide some of the details themselves, perhaps allowing them to see themselves in the character. Many of the illustrations show the back of Emma, looking out doors or windows, therefore her facial expressions are not visible, again allowing interpretation from the reader. The backgrounds in the first half of the book feature scenes from the country and the second half indicates that Emma has moved to the city, making it clear that Emma has to cope with not just moving to a new house, but also a new lifestyle.   The final image of Emma smiling, with an arm raised against a warm sunset city street, leaves the reader in no doubt that the move has ultimately been a positive experience.