Deborah Freedman’s masterful new picture book is at once an introduction to the pieces of a house, a cozy story to share and explore, and a dreamy meditation on the magic of our homes and our world.
Before there was this house,
there were stones,
and a colossal oak tree—
three hugs around
and as high as the blue.
What was your home, once?
This poetically simple, thought-provoking, and gorgeously illustrated book invites readers to think about where things come from and what nature provides.
THIS HOUSE, ONCE, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017
“A blueprint for mindfulness and gratitude for the homes in which we...live.” — The New York Times Book Review
★ “As usual, Freedman’s rendering of color, form, and light are just right for her loving, conscientious evaluation of the natural elements that collaboratively become the structure of a house... Brick by brick, we begin to understand that we not only coexist with nature, but that home is composed of both ourselves and the adventure of a life observed.” — Jilleen Moore, Square Books, Oxford, MS, Spring 2017 Kids’ Indie Next List
★ "Softly, poetically, an unseen narrator explores a house and what it is made of.... with a supreme delicacy—Freedman builds this house.... The arc emphasizes shelter but also human use of nature, so the feelings of warmth, safety, and coziness hold the faintest tinge of melancholy and loss. Tender, comforting, and complex."
– Kirkus Reviews, starred review
★ "Freedman lyrically meditates on the origins of a house... [her] gentle inquiry is drawn with exquisite precision and quiet dashes of humor, and it will leave children thinking about the way their own houses are an extension of the natural world, with “memories” of the resources used to bring them into existence."
– Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ "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..."
– School Library Journal, starred review
"When a book unfolds as beautifully and thoughtfully as Deborah Freedman’s This House, Once, it’s easy to forget the hard work that goes into creating a story, much like we take the objects around us for granted. This House, Once gently opens our eyes to the craftsmanship and histories that surround us daily..." — BookPage
"Combining lyrical language and cozy mixed-media artwork, Freedman celebrates the elements of the natural world... Dreamy and imaginative."
“It is beautiful and original and thought-provoking."
– John Schumacher, aka, @Mr.SchuReads
More about THIS HOUSE, ONCE
Kirkus, "My Classroom File" — "there are some picture books that make me wish I could snap my fingers and instantly be back in a school library..."
7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast — sketches & art from the book
Singer-songwriter Emily Arrow performs her song based on the book: