A House That Once Was, but is no more…

Title: A House That Once Was
Author: Julie Fogliano
Illustrator: Lane Smith
Rating: 9
Source: Raincoast Books for review

Description from Goodreads:

Deep in the woods
is a house
just a house
that once was
but now isn’t
a home.

Who lived in that house? Who walked down its hallways? Why did they leave it, and where did they go?

Two children set off to find the answers, piecing together clues found, books left behind, forgotten photos, discarded toys, and creating their own vision of those who came before.

What I Thought:

This imagination-capturing story transports adults and children alike to the magical land of What-If? There is nothing quite as exciting to young minds as an abandoned house. Who lived here? What if they were lost at sea? What if the house likes being abandoned? (And, ever-lurking at the back of your mind… What if it ISN’T abandoned?!)

A fabulous read-aloud, I don’t remember the last time my daughter and I read a story that provoked so many questions. She’s been talking about it non-stop!

I *love* Lane Smith. I remember when I was a kid reading The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, Squids Will Be Squids, and The Stinky Cheese Man, thinking, “This guy is a stinking genius.” And I definitely still think that today. (For another more recent Lane Smith delight, check out the wonderful There Is a Tribe of Kids.)

The unique way that Smith combines newspapers, old photographs, and gorgeous colour illustrations is breathtaking. And of course my daughter loved looking for the little blue bird on every page. We love when illustrators do stuff like that.

This is my first encounter with Julie Fogliano but I think after I’ve finished up this review we might just pop over to the library and grab up all of her books that we can find. The text of A House That Once Was reads so beautifully that I fell in love on page one.

Have I used the word “love” enough in this review? We really, truly, love this book.

What Evelyn Thought:

This was a nice story. The pictures are well done but I got confused with the white and the blue on the front door. But Mom explained it to me. The paint is peeling.

What I think happened is that a long time ago the father died and he couldn’t bring back food for his wife and children so they had to eat what was in the house. And then when there was nothing good for their bodies to eat or drink they died too. But no one knows who they were. And so their house wasn’t a house anymore.