Reviews /

Moving the Millers’ Minnie Moore Mine Mansion

Authored by Dave Eggers
Illustrated by Julia Sarda
Published by Walker Books Ltd

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The true story of the whole house move which sounds like it was made up for a children’s picture book.

The wonderfully titled Moving the Millers’ Minnie Moore Mine Mansion, tells the story of how Annie Miller moved her whole house four miles down the road. In 1870s Idaho, USA a silver mine owner, Henry builds a large, ‘impressive, stately mansion’ for his new wife, Annie. Following his premature death, Annie is swindled and falls on hard times, so decides to earn money by farming pigs. However, keeping livestock is forbidden in town. Reluctant to leave the grand home her beloved husband built, Annie decides to move the entire building to a spot out of town where she and her son can live peacefully and keep pigs.

The fact that this really happened makes the tale all the more remarkable and entertaining. The author makes the most of this by having a strong-narrative voice recount the events in the style of a fireside storytelling. The warm, sepia-toned illustrations have the flat feel of a vintage prints and perfectly compliment the humour of the text. The Millers’ house does indeed look grand and full of ‘Old World Civility’ and the characters, both human and animal, are animated and characterful. The impact of Annie’s challenges is empathetically conveyed, as we see her change from pretty young bride to noble grieving widow to gritty, enterprising businesswoman.

The combination of a beguiling story and quirky pictures make this a winner to be shared aloud or read independently from Year 1 to 6. The events recounted invite many questions and are bound to get young minds thinking. I am looking forward to using this book as inspiration for a ‘Changing Homes’ topic with my class. I can see us discussing how homes were different in the past, how different types of people live in different types of homes, how people’s circumstances can lead to changes in where they live and discussing the question: Can we move a whole house across the school playground?

Longlisted for the Young Quills Award 2024 For readers 5-8 Years Category