Monday, September 3, 2018

A House That Once Was by Julie Fogliano

Ever Wonder Who Once Lived In An Abandoned House?

"Deep in the woods / is a house / just a house / that once was / but now isn't / a home."
The colorful but muted illustration of trees, flowers, and a bird has a sketch of a house in the background. A boy and girl tiptoe and creep up the winding, weed-covered path to the old house. The door is stuck so they look around.
"Off to the side there's a window / that's watching. / A window that once opened wide. / A window that now has no window at all. / A window that says climb inside."
The children slither through the opening. Inside the house, it is quiet and creaky, so they whisper, though there really isn't a reason to. When the children look around they see books, an animal's bowl, keys, a mouse sticking its head through a picture on the wall, a photo of a child, paints, and brushes, cooking supplies, and more.

They begin to wonder who lived there: perhaps a man who dreamed of the sea, a woman who loved to paint in the garden, a cat who slept by the fire, or did the people run off and not say goodbye?
"Or what if they're lost and they're wandering lonely? Maybe they can't find their set of house keys?"
The wondering and imagining continues until eventually the kids slip back out the window and head down the path that snakes out of the woods through weeds and tangled thorns.

When they get back, dinner is waiting and their home is cozy and warm. But deep in the woods is an abandoned house that once was but now isn't a home.

What Concerned Me: Though this is a beautiful book, it felt dark and gloomy to me. It even verged on creepy. I'm not sure how kids will feel about it. And I could be overly sensitive.

What I Liked Most: The illustrations blend beautifully with the text. And the story does promote discovery and imagination.

Author: Julie Fogliano
Illustrator: Lane Smith
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (May 2018)

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