How Things Work in the House

by Lisa Campbell Ernst

How Things Work



In How Things Work in the House, Lisa Campbell Ernst delves into how common household objects—such as soap, scissors and house keys—work. The detailed but easy-to-understand language describes the functioning of everyday items, and Ernst's meticulous and cleverly labeled pictures are fascinating. How Things Work in the House is a marvelous companion to the much-praised How Things Work Around the Yard. It also stands on its own as kid-compelling non-fiction.

Editorial Review


All of the household items you take for granted are explained in this colorful and handy volume.

Following her How Things Work in the Yard (2011), Ernst comes indoors. Ever wonder how your toilet works? A faucet? A straw? Ernst offers simple answers with engaging illustrations. Writing for a young audience, she mostly explains what can be done with things in our houses. “How does a banana work?” begins the volume, showing the varied uses of the humble banana: rubbing the inside of the skin on mosquito bites; using the leaves for making rugs, ropes and "fancy kimonos"; dipping it in chocolate for a tasty treat. Spoons are not just the workhorse of the utensil drawer; they can be used to make catapults, puppets, musical instruments and mirrors. Similarly, popcorn, sandwiches, scissors, glue, piggy banks and kazoos are featured. The youngest readers will be fascinated by the simple explanations, the bright and whimsical illustrations, and the pleasing design of the volume. Children will begin by browsing and soon find themselves pulled into the stories behind the objects they thought they knew.

A good glimpse at how things work in our houses and a great way to encourage children to wonder about their everyday worlds.

School Library Journal

This simple and graphically appealing book capitalizes on the types of questions kids ask. Similar to How Things Work in the Yard (Blue Apple, 2011), it focuses on 25 common household objects. More traditional subjects like faucets, staplers, straws, and nightlights are interspersed with the less-likely topics such as Teddy bears, piggy banks, and sandwiches. In addition to short facts, ideas relating to the topic include recipes, crafts, and activities. A discussion of soap focuses on washing hands, while information about how a kazoo works includes a technique for making one with waxed paper and a comb. Especially charming are the cut-paper illustrations; they are exceptionally clear and colorful. Librarians creating flannel boards might take note of the layering technique here. Children will be drawn to the art and will be inspired to ask more questions.

About The Author/Artist

Lisa Campbell Ernst grew up in Oklahoma, spent nine years in New York City, and now lives in Kansas City, Missouri. She has written and illustrated more than twenty children's books. The author lives in Kansas City, Missouri.


Unjacketed hardcover. Ages 4 and up.


USA 16.99 | Canada 18.99

ISBN Number


On Sale Date