February 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

This House, Once by Deborah Freedman | SLJ Review

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redstarFREEDMAN, Deborah. This House, Once. illus. by Deborah Freedman. 40p. S. & S./Atheneum. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481442848.

thishouseoncePreS-Gr 2 –In a story that’s more poetic than technical, select pieces of a home are highlighted to emphasize the idea that a house remembers. A domicile is constructed with natural elements that began as something much different. “This door was once a colossal oak tree about three hugs around and as high as the blue.” The images start simply, with mostly white space and three or four lines of prose. The next spread illustrates the previous page’s text with softly muted blues, purples, and oranges and lightly placed lines. This pattern continues until the middle of the book, where the visuals and text combine. The pages become more crowded and rich with color, proclaiming that a house remembers and bringing the tale full circle with the conclusive phrase, “which once was an oak.” If readers look closely, they will also notice a cute kitten and/or a bright contrasting red doorknob in most of the illustrations and a change in seasons. Freedman has created a cozy offering to share that will spark curiosity. Conversations centered on questions such as, “How was our house made?,” “Where did the various materials come from?,” and “What function does it serve?” between a caregiver and child will carry on the ideas presented in this title long after it has been set down. VERDICT A lovely, ruminative selection, best shared one-on-one or in a small group setting.–Mindy Hiatt, Salt Lake County Library Services

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2017 issue.

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