Parents' Guide to

A House That Once Was

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 4+

Lovely, lyrical adventure as kids explore abandoned house.

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This haunting poem about an abandoned house "haunted" by the household objects its former owners left behind is pure pleasure to read and reflect on. Though A House That Once Was is contemplative, it never sinks into sadness. The kids are adventurers. When they imagine the previous owners, they dream up exciting lives. And the story has a happy, hopeful ending. The house, though changed, still hums with life. "And maybe it likes it out there in the forest / with the trees coming in where the roof used to go." As the kids leave to go home, a bluebird in that tree delivers worms to the hungry babies in her nest.

Though there's some light rhyme, author Julie Fogliano's verse is never singsong, and the poem draws much of its forward-moving rhythm from a soothing, mesmerizing repetition. Lane Smith cleverly adds a fun switcheroo to the art: The illustration of the kids as they explore are gauzily dappled and dreamy, while the scenes they imagine are more vividly defined. Take a breath. Slow down. This is a book for kids and adults to savor together at the end of a busy day.

Book Details

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