Alice E. Goudey wrote over 20 picture books, most of them having to do with animals and nature, such as this one. Quite a number are titled "Here Come the [animal]!", as in "Here Come the Beavers!", "Here Come the Dolphins!", "Here Come the Bears!", "Here Come the Lions!", and even "Here Come the Wild Dogs!" It's like Noah's getting really excited as the ark's occupants arrive.
Adrienne Adams received her Bachelors degree from Stephens College in Missouri, which happens to be where my maternal Grandmother went to school as well, though my Grandmother would've arrived a couple decades later. Her first picture book, "Bag of Smoke," was a collaboration with her husband, John Lorizo Anderson. It seems she worked in a variety of mediums, especially ink and/or watercolor washes paired with colored pencil, as is the case with "Houses from the Sea." The University of Minnesota has some of her original work on collection, a summary of which you can read about here.
Two children, presumable a brother and sister, discover many shells at the beach and consider what the shells look like. At the end of the story, Goudey shares the origin of shells, from which I think many adults might learn something. Especially the fact that crustaceans like hermit crabs did not create the shell it inhabits, but are merely residing in it, perhaps long after the death of the snail-like creature that created it. In this sense, the shells are "Houses" only after they are the "exoskeleton" (I realize that's likely not an accurate term) of a slug-of-the-sea.
All this is to say that it's primarily an informative book to expose readers to a the myriad of real and fantastic bodily relics that wash onto seashores.
The style is certainly poetry, though since it is largely straightforward narrative with some imagery spiced in and since there is no rhyming, children might not at first pick up that it is poetic. When shown the pages, however, they will see that the text form blocks of thoughtfully broken up sentences, and that may help them to recognize that it's poetry and can be read artfully.
There is a great combination of atmospheric washes, providing an underwater feel with the blues and shadows on the white beach sand with grayish browns, and finely drawn depictions of the the shells at hand. These accurate drawings lend the book the excitement of a "Guidebook."
Best of all are the renderings of the things that each shell's appearance conjures up in the youths' minds. For example, the page for the "Wentletraps, wentletraps, wentletraps!" showcases her layered style to great effect.
As I've said, this book offers a beginners guide to shells riding atop a simple narrative of exploration and imagination. Both the text and the illustrations capably take on this dual function. These facts can live merrily with poetry, just as Adams' near-scientific renderings of shells balance the playful visions of the youth.
I couldn't resist sharing one page that particularly dates this book. Not that this is outright politically incorrect by today's standards. Just that among the memory-visions that fill these pages, this one ends up being a bit less calming, for me at least.
Not much on my mind here except that this book from 1959 makes me wonder why I don't see very many contemporary picture books that combine poetic narrative and science. I feel like this book is as effective a primer to marine bio as any book its length written for the under-10 crowd could be, even one of those photo-heavy non-fiction ones. Stories can lubricate information, and poetry (or a poetic feel) can make science seem very un-science-y, important for those uninitiated and shy.