Rules of the House

illus. by Matt Myers. 48p. Disney-Hyperion. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781423185161.
K-Gr 2—Ian likes rules. His older sister Jenny does not. The woodsy vacation house where their family is spending the summer comes with a posted set of rules, including a prohibition against opening a certain red door. Naturally, Jenny ignores all the rules, even the one about the red door. Her defiant opening of this door during an argument with Ian changes the genre of the story from realistic to fantastical, as all the household devices whose rules she's ignored ("Remove muddy shoes before you enter the house") come alive, each claiming that it will have rule-breaking Jenny for dinner. As the errant rug and appliances chop vegetables and sing made-up songs, Ian saves the day by citing a rule that they themselves have broken, giving Jenny the opportunity to help scare the creatures away. An early page showing trails through the woods literally causes the plot to wander, but occasional pages featuring just one line of text add suspenseful pacing. Painterly illustrations quickly transform frightening images into comical ones, creating a mixture of silliness and creepiness—and alert viewers will notice the red eyes on the stove and rug just before they awaken.
VERDICT A scary but silly sibling story about times when breaking the rules might just be okay. The perfect read to prepare for a stay at a vacation house.

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