A House That Once Was

Two award-winning children’s books heavy-weights come together to craft this beautiful tale of the life of a home that is now only a house. With gently rhythmic words and delicate, impressionistic paintings we learn the story of the house.

Children walking in the woods come across an abandoned house and decide to explore through an open window. Once inside the house, the children begin to imagine who might have lived in the house, how they spent their time, and where they might be now. Through the careful composition of text and image, the memories of the house are told.

Smith uses expressive texture and line for the ‘now’ of the story, but more solid, darker imagery for the ‘what if’ of the story. This illustrative treatment extends the other-worldliness of what Fogliano describes through verse.

Though the children seem concerned that the house might be lonely, they are finally comforted by the idea that the trees have adopted the house into the forest and the children return to their own cosy, warm home. It is a slightly melancholy, but hopeful, story; one that is perfect for sleepy-heads or home bodies aged 5 – 7. In all, this is a gem of a book.