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A House That Once Was
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A House That Once Was

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  142 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
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.
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Roaring Brook Press
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Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When I was growing up there was an empty house across the street. A melancholy, haunted structure that seemed to wear its sadness like a badge. No one ever moved into it that I can recall, and the neighborhood kids would attempt to conjure up ghost stories to match its tired visage. I never went in it. Never even peeked in the window, though I longed to. To a kid, an abandoned house is better than a snow fort, a play structure, or a climbing tree combined. An empty house has history and mystery ...more
Laura Harrison
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved Fogliano's slightly overlooked yet perfect, When Green Becomes Tomatoes. A House that Once Was is a lovely poetry book. Poignant, quiet, atmospheric. Many discussions can arise as to why the house is abandoned. Lavish, scrumptious illustrations by the magnificent Lane Smith.
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I can't wait to share this book. Such a beautiful read. The rhythmic text will be perfect for read-alouds and bedtimes. It both soothes and creates a sort of mystery. The art builds upon the story. I love reading the media and style used for this. This book is meant to read over and over again.
Leonard Kim
Apr 07, 2018 rated it liked it
I wish I liked this better. The first stanza/spread is a home run. What I am starting to think after this book and her previous couple (When's My Birthday? and Old Dog Baby Baby) is that Fogliano is a real poet whose work may not be best served broken up across the pages of a standard picture book. I think the longer poems in When Green Becomes Tomatoes that could have gotten the picture book treatment were more effective the way they were, and I'd rather there were more such collections in her ...more
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
I do love the sad mysterious ones. Although I’m not sure I would have thought it was sad when I was a kid.

This makes me think of my favorite Margaret Wise Brown books. I love the way Julie Fogliano plays with the poetic line, and how she dives right into the weird and unexpected stuff. And the illustrations are perfect. Just the right balance of beautiful and strange—and the imagined scenes being clearer and bolder than the images of the boy and girl exploring the house speaks more profoundly a
Leslie Reese
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s
This gem struck me as a poetic meditation on what an abandoned house is: a place that was once a home. A place where people lived life, dreamed dreams, and made memories. It wonders what happened that its inhabitants have not returned?

"And maybe the house is still waiting there for them.
Waiting to hear their key in the door.

Waiting for voices to bounce down the hallway.
Waiting for someone to come sweep the floor.

Or maybe it loves to just sit and remember
stories of someone who we'll never know.
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful language by Julie Fogliano -- rhyming and not-quite-rhyming verse that begs to be read aloud. I can imagine having someone read this to me as a kid, and shivering with the mystery and possibility of exploring an abandoned house.

Also note the unusual illustration technique by the always-inventive Lane Smith:

“The illustrations in this book were done in two different techniques. The ‘present day’ illustrations were made with India ink, drawn on vellum with a crow quill pen, then pressed
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: j-ya
This teaches kids that history is way cool, and why old stuff matters.
Richie Partington
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Richie’s Picks: A HOUSE THAT ONCE WAS by Julie Fogliano and Lane Smith, ill., Roaring Brook, May 2018, 48p., ISBN: 978-1-62672-314-6

“Who was this someone
who walked down this hallway
who cooked in this kitchen
who napped in this chair?
Who was this someone
who left without packing
someone who’s gone
but is still everywhere?”

In the attic, inside a big plastic storage bin of old photos and memorabilia, there’s a black-and-white snapshot of me taken in 1966. I’m grinning and sweaty, a hammer in my hand, p
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rhythmical and enchanting, A House that Once Was is a picture book about imagining and connecting with how things might have been different in other times.

Deep in the woods two children discover an old house; “a house that once was but now isn't a home”. The children enter the house through a broken window and it is immediately clear that the house used to be somebody’s home, as the pair discover faded pictures, empty food jars and abandoned music records. The children begin to imagine differen
Carol  Vanhook
What I especially liked about this book are the questions inside the house as to who lived here, what did they enjoy doing with their loved ones and friends, what inventive technologies did they use, and when did the somebodies live here. It is a puzzle that these histories fade away, unless documented in the history books of community and family.

I truly loved this book as it stirred memories. As a pre-teen, I had this experience with a friend. It was like searching for buried treasure. In the '
May 14, 2018 rated it liked it
It took me a while to get used to the way the story is presented - "that once was but now isn't a home," "once wasn't but now it is peeling." I think a read-aloud-er would have to be very careful not to lose those being read to with the dreamlike quality of the text.
It really hits its stride about halfway through, though, and stays strong to the end.

Makes me sad, though, to think of a house with books still on the shelves, a bed still made, pictures on the walls.
May 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture-book
I have mixed feelings about this one. While the illustrations were dreamy and the words poetic, I question the ideas it may give children (and don't say they wouldn't get ideas - trust me, no biting books have inspired children to start biting!). I worry that some really imaginative kids might get the idea to go exploring in abandoned homes which is not only dangerous but could be illegal...
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gobsmacked! Didn’t know that children’s board books can accommodate such beautiful narrative poetry. The flap told me the illustrator won some awards or sommat, and though the busy style irked me when I laid eye on the cover, I began to marvelled at some of the intricacies in the paintings after a few pages. Beaut!
Alice Ball
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books, art
What is the difference between a house and a home? When two children come across an abandoned house in the woods they imagine the people who once made it a home. Brilliant illustrations, and touching poetic prose.
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Spectacular! A beautiful text married with very cool illustrations that show both the abandon house before and after. A bit melancholy, a bit adventurous, a really interesting book. A Caldecott contender.
Mary Librarian
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love the technique used for the artwork. It has a quality that reminds me of a memory and that is what this book is about. A house that is full of memories but is no longer a home for making new ones.
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Where do I start? The imagination required to create the story? The skill to express it? The beauty of the art work? I am saving this book for myself. When I retire and have time to quilt, I will use these colors to guide me.
May 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 0-7, picture-book
Melancholy. Lovely illustrations -- I really appreciated the mixture of techniques to convey the "then" versus the "now." The text is solid but lacked the lyrical quality I've come to expect from the author. I'm not sure kids will like this one as much as adults.
Emma (Miss Print)
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous. I love that Smith's artwork is always changing and evolving. Fogliano's text is beautiful and lilting. The opening and closing pages reminded me of a villanelle or Annabelle Lee. Lovely all around.
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lyrical writing and illustrations that would be interesting to ask students about: how would you try to create them, and why are they different from the imagined ones? I guess I was hoping for more answers, but maybe that's the point: we'll never know.
Darshana Khiani (Flowering Minds)
a gorgeous, lyrical book
so much fun to read aloud.
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Two boys discover an old house in the woods and explore it. They imagine who might have lived there. The author leaves it open ended so readers can speculate too.
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really digging the illustrations, especially the flowers.
Lisa D
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book! this should win awards!!
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, picture-books
Awesome illustrations. Poetic writing. Caldecott potential?
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thoughtfully lovely with a dream-like eerie quality.
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love the illustrations!
Kelly Carey
Lyrically wonderful -- equal parts warm and comforting and mysterious and haunting.

Brilliant -
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it
The illustrations were okay, but very jumbled. The story was difficult to follow at times, and I tried to look at it through a child's eyes. It didn't go well.
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Julie Fogliano has spent her entire life reading children's books. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband and three children.
More about Julie Fogliano