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A House That Once Was
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A House That Once Was

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,169 ratings  ·  300 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.
Paperback, 48 pages
Published July 11th 2019 by Two Hoots (first published May 1st 2018)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,169 ratings  ·  300 reviews


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Hannah Greendale
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-book
Stunning in every way.
Mir
Aug 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture
Inside the house
it is silent but creaking.
We're whispering mostly
but not really speaking.
We whisper though no one would mind if we didn't.
The someone who once was
is someone who isn't.
The someone who once was
is gone.


Two children explore an abandoned house in the woods, wondering where the inhabitants went.

Given that the person's possessions were all left behind, most likely they died and had no loved once to notice, but this possibility is never addressed.

I'm not sure how I feel about this book.
...more
Betsy
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Hilary
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hilary by: Found in the library
The illustrations were okay. The text felt forced and reminded me too much of other better books, The Green Ship and The Hidden House spring to mind, which covered the idea that a house stands, whilst lives end and move on much more effectively.
Sara
The overwhelming reaction every member of my household had to this book was a breathy and very pleased sounding,

"gee that was nice."

This is a sweet, just slightly mysterious story about two curious children and the long abandoned home they love to explore. There's just a touch of sadness and a twinge of loneliness ghosting through the pages but mostly its a quiet meditation on memory and an ode to the wonder of a child's imagination.

Juli Fogliano has a delightful, sing songy, bittersweet writing
...more
Diane
Nov 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
This is another lovely children's book, found thanks to The New York Times' annual list of the best illustrated children's books.

The story follows two children who find an abandoned house in the woods and sneak inside to look around. They imagine who might have lived there, and what happened to them. At the end of their day of exploration, they happily return to their safe and cozy home.

The pictures are beautiful, and I loved the vibrant colors. Recommended.

Jaksen
Dec 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Borrowed this book to read to my six-year old grandson.

Okay, we liked it well enough, a brief story about two children finding, exploring and wondering about an abandoned house found in the woods. The illustrations were 'okay' my grandson said. (And he is a great drawer; all his Christmas gifts this year will be 'drawing' ones, including artist-grade sketchpads as he's totally into it.) I asked him what he didn't like about the 'drawings.' His answer, shouldn't they be 'scarier' as this is an
...more
Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)
Who gave a kid’s book the right so be so gorgeously atmospheric and charming?????
Melki
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kidstuff
If you can get past the little-tykes-trespassing aspect of this book, it's quite a nice, thoughtful story about trying to imagine the past. Lane Smith's artwork is beyond gorgeous!

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So, 5 stars for the art, 3 for the story = 4 stars be my rating.

Abigail
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young Children Who Wonder About the History of the Buildings Around Them
Beautifully written and beautifully illustrated, A House That Once Was is a triumph of a picture-book, one that successfully evokes that feeling of childhood, of exploring a mysterious world that echoes with the sounds and shadows of those who came before. The poetic narrative follows some children as they explore an old, abandoned house, imagining who might have lived there, long ago. The artwork depicts their exploration of the here and now, and their imaginings of the then, in different ...more
Leslie Reese
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
...more
Laura Harrison
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, omg-cant-wait
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.
Earl
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Two children explore an old abandoned house they find in the woods and speculate on who once lived there and where the people went. The illustrations are pen and ink drawings with some collages of real objects thrown in.
Kati
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a beautiful story about a house that once was a home. About the people who might have called its walls their own.

Two children, exploring the forest, stumble upon a path. And down that path, overgrown, rarely trod, is a house.... falling apart, still housing the memories of the people who once called it home.

Very whimsical. This story is permeated with a sense of wistful homesickness. Another good word for it would be Hiraeth: a wistfulness for a place that one once called home, even a place that
...more
Vicki
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture
I love this book. This is exactly how I feel when I see abandoned buildings and houses-who was once here and what did they do?

The author does a great job expressing the “wondering” part of this story. The thing I wonder about is the lack of an adult with these children as this could be a dangerous adventure. I would hate to have children encouraged by this book to explore like this on their own.

The illustrations are well done, just not my personal style.
Kelly
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.
Annie
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Kate Sumner
A House That Was Once Was was written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Lane Smith.What’s interesting is that there isn’t a found typeset for the book, but the illustrations 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 while onto watercolor paper crating a blotted line effect. The “imagined” scenes were painted in oil paint on hot press board and scanned along with paper collage elements ...more
Rebecca
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
...more
Sandy
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book as it allows children to use their imagination into the story as two children look inside an abandoned home. The story gives hints as to what might have occurred inside this house and the illustrations provide little details but it’s up to the individuals who are reading the story to put their particulars into the story.

I like how this story is told. Using rhyme, a boy and girl discover the mystery house and its contents. They make inferences on each page based on what they
...more
Megan Johnson
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-to-classes
This was such a wonderful story about children and imagination. As they find an abandoned house and try to imagine who once lived there. I work for a local library and we are gathering books to read to classes that come over from our neighboring school. This I think is going to be a great one to read and maybe find out who the kids can imagine might have lived there. I really enjoyed the illustrations in this book and well the were very interesting.
KC
A boy and girl stumble upon an abandon house and imagine its former tenants. What I loved most about this book was how illustrator Lane Smith used two types of artwork to represent the past and present.
Jeimy
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a lover of picture books and this one strikes the perfect balance between haunting and loveliness.
GooseberryCompote
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: j-ya
This teaches kids that history is way cool, and why old stuff matters.
DaNae
Beautiful, lyrical, haunting, hopeful. Fogliano hardly needed an illustration to put us smack in this setting. I still have goosebumps.

(Smith's illustrations are, however, lovely.)
Kris
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
The illustrations are stunning in this melancholy little book. It is about what makes a house a home, and what a house is once it has been left behind by its occupants. Beautiful, but a bit blue.
Edward Sullivan
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
A boy and girl explore an abandoned house, and wonder and imagine. Evocative, inventive, and quite stunning.
Katrina
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lovely.
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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.