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A House That Once Was
Contributor(s): Fogliano, Julie, Smith, Lane (Illustrator)
ISBN: 1626723141     ISBN-13: 9781626723146
Publisher: Roaring Brook
    OUR PRICE: $17.10  
Product Type: School And Library
Published: May 2018
Annotation: The award-winning author of If You Want to See a Whale and the award-winning creator of Grandpa Green present a vibrantly illustrated story in verse about a boy and girl who explore an abandoned house and imagine who might have lived there by piecing together clues from discarded photos and toys.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Stories in rhyme.
Dwellings; Fiction.
Home; Fiction.
BISAC Categories:
- Juvenile Fiction | Bedtime & Dreams
- Juvenile Fiction | Imagination & Play
Dewey: [E]
LCCN: bl2018070881
Academic/Grade Level: Kindergarten, Ages 5-6
Book type: Easy Fiction
Physical Information: 11.00" H x 9.00" W x 1.00" (1.25 lbs)
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2018 February #4)

In this lyrical meditation by Fogliano (When's My Birthday?), two children discover an empty, derelict house: "Deep in the woods/ is a house/ just a house/ that once was / but now isn't/ a home." Smith (Grandpa Green) draws the surrounding forest in bursts of texture and color, but when the children enter the house and wander through the rooms, the color fades and things take on a ghostly dimension. "Who was this someone who ate beans for dinner/ who sat by this fire/ who looked in this mirror?" Especially spooky are the photographic collage details showing the faces of the home's long-ago residents. The moodiness lifts as the guessing grows silly, and Smith's spreads switch to richer color, depth, and playful caricature: "Was it a man with a big beard and glasses who would look out the window and dream of the sea?" Sensitive readers may be put off by the story's eerier suggestions ("Or what if they're lost and they're wandering lonely?"), while those who share a fascination with abandoned places will be entranced. Ages 3–6. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2018 May)

PreS-Gr 3—A wizard of wordplay and a maestro of composition combine their considerable talents to explore the notion of home. With a stylistic nod to e.e. cummings and just enough rhyme to propel the pace and please the ear, Fogliano tracks siblings as they approach and enter an abandoned house. Her lines about the dwelling are a study in contrasts. Once it was, but now it isn't a home. The boy and girl notice: "A door that is closed but not quite. A door that is stuck between coming and going. A door that was once painted white." As the children peruse books and objects, they extrapolate conclusions about the owners. Perhaps the man was a sea captain, the woman—a painter. Smith's complex, layered illustrations first depict an impressionistic forest world, rich with a bouquet of deep, dappled colors. (A note on process adds appreciation.) Lighter wildflowers grace the foreground, and a bluebird—a character to watch—transports a worm. Inside the house, it's as if the pages have been bleached; sunlight streaming through roof holes renders possessions transparent. Collage elements, such as a mouse poking through a portrait, add humor. As the imagined inhabitants assume center stage, the oil paintings take on more solidity and definition. While the final sentence reinforces the opening message, a concluding iris shot—with bluebird and babies singing merrily on branches that have invaded the structure—suggests an alternate narrative. VERDICT Stirring to the eye and the spirit, this evocative book repays frequent readings. Perfect for one-on-one sharing.—Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.