It Came In the Mail

#pb10for10: HOUSE and HOME

Every year on August 10th, I lurk on Twitter as teachers and other readers post about "ten books they can't live without." An impossible task, you say? Um, yes. But if we are "allowed" to choose ten within a theme—well, then we can talk—

There are so many books that have been written over the years about houses and what makes a home. Here are ten that live on my bookshelves, and why I love them:

A Very Special House by Ruth Krauss & Maurice Sendak, 1953: Ruth Krauss’s chanting, child’s voice and Sendak’s child-drawings together imagine “just a home for me – me – me!” Where a child can put feet on the table, draw on the walls, and bring home “a monkey and a skunky and a very old lion who is eating all the stuffing from the chairs, chairs, chairs!” Uptight adults will not approve of all that, of course, but most children will be delighted by this boisterous, “special” house.

I Want to Paint My Bathroom Blue, also by Krauss and Sendak, 1956:  One of the books I love to give to families with young children, for its charm and fancy and pure joy. “I’ll make a house the kind I dream about not the kind I see…”

The Great Blue House by Kate Banks & Georg Hallensleben, 2005: Beautiful text and gouaches show the life of and in a house while it is closed up for the winter—but still home to a drippy faucet, a mouse, a spider, a cat, a bird. “All is quiet at the great blue house. Or is it?” Poetic and meditative. 

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson & Beth Krommes, 2008: A beautiful, lyrical bedtime book that begins and ends with a house, the center and source of a child’s universe.

My House by Delphine Durand, 2007: "My house isn't fancy on the outside. Really nothing special at all —come in —" 
This is not a book to read exactly (well, at least not to a crowd), it's a book to pour over and over, preferably with someone who shares your sense of humor. Each page is a jumble of rooms full of interesting, endearing, strange characters —"people", if you can call them that (Mr. Nozitall, Mrs. Fishyscales, Badhairday, Mega-Ugly and Maxi-Foul, et al), animals (large, small, invented), flops, flumps —who appear throughout this plotless book. It's sweetly bizarre and incredibly funny in a quirky sort of way, every inch full of tiny, amusing details, painted in rich colors with occasional collaged bits.

Home Place by Crescent Dragonwagon & Jerry Pinkney, 1990: Daffodils come up in the woods, in a row, every spring, the only living memory of a house long gone. Amid ruins in the woods — a chimney, a foundation smothered in weeds — a narrator imagines the family that lived there. A lovely rumination on what makes a house a home.

Home by Carson Ellis, 2015: What is a home? Ellis presents all kinds of possibilities here, real and fanciful. A simple, thoughtful, and lovingly painted collection of homes and people who live in them. 

Everything You Need for a Treehouse by Carter Higgins & Emily Hughes, 2018: “Everything you need for a treehouse begins with time and looking up and imagining a home…” this book begins. Lusciously written and illustrated (pay attention to those pictures and you will learn a lot about all kinds of trees and different ways of building), this is an ode to the role of imagination in creating homes.

Hello, Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall, 2018: Tender text and intricate illustrations reflect the author’s love of lighthouses, depicted through days, seasons, years. Readers learn about the function and keeping of lighthouses, but even more about how the lighthouse was also a home. Just beautiful.

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton, 1942: You know this classic, don’t you? One of my childhood favorites.

What are some of your favorite books about houses and homes?


You Read to Me, I'll Read to You

Did you know that April is Poetry Month? I’ve been celebrating with extra poetry reading —including, naturally, picturebooks. Because my favorite picturebook texts are always lyrical, layered, and — rhyming or not — poems...

Read the rest in my recently mailed eNewsletter — here.*

" Brother " © Mary Ann & Norman Hoberman 1959, from Hello and Goodbye, Little, Brown & Co.

"Brother" © Mary Ann & Norman Hoberman 1959, from Hello and Goodbye, Little, Brown & Co.

*Scroll down to the bottom of any page on this site if you would like to sign up for future newsletters. Your information will be used for my e-newsletter only, and never, ever shared. You may unsubscribe at any time.

The Original Art

I am honored that art from my latest book, This House, Once, is included in The Original Art — an annual exhibit "celebrating the fine art of children’s book illustration" at the Museum of Illustration at the Society of Illustrators, New York, now on display until December 30, 2017.

Founded in 1980 by illustrators’ agent and art director Dilys Evans, this exhibit showcases the original art from the year’s best children’s books. The 2017 exhibit features a diverse list of books selected by a jury of outstanding illustrators, art directors, and editors...

Some of my favorite illustrators working today will have art from their beautiful books represented here — if you are in NYC, do swing by!

From  This House, Once , ©Deborah Freedman 2017

From This House, Once, ©Deborah Freedman 2017

The Power of the Picture Book

In honor of Picture Book Month, teacher Kurt Stroh is hosting on his blog a wonderful series called "The Power of the Picture Book," through the whole month of November. I'm so pleased that he invited me to join in today — take a look at the whole series and my contribution, "The Secret of It". At www.strohreads.

From  The Little Island , by Golden MacDonald and Leonard Weisgard, 1946.

From The Little Island, by Golden MacDonald and Leonard Weisgard, 1946.

This House Was Once Paper...

I always have fun drawing and painting with children at schools, libraries, bookstores & festivals... whether splashing blue paint á la Blue Chicken, or simply drawing and making up stories.

Since This House, Once was released, we have been making "houses" together, and I thought I'd share this little project because it is engaging and so super-simple (and not messy!). We just fold paper or card stock in half, cut and fold a door — and then kids can draw, color, decorate inside and out. For the littlest house-makers, you can do the cutting and folding.

Take a look at these houses — and then try it!

Back to School


It’s that time of year again — my books are going back to school.
What will the new school year bring? ...

Read the rest in my latest eNewsletter — here. And be sure to scroll all the way down, for a special offer for my eNews subscribers!


Chatting about This House, Once

In anticipation of the publication of This House Once, I had the honor of chatting recently with two wonderful picturebook friends about my newest book. We talked about things like inspiration, making one's home an art-friendly environment, and if I weren't writing books, what would I be doing? You can read those interviews here:

©Deborah Freedman 2017,  This House, Once , Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

©Deborah Freedman 2017, This House, Once, Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

The World Through Blue-Tinted Eyeballs

February 18th was World Read Aloud Day. What fun! I Skyped with eleven school all around the U.S. Here's a class whose teachers prepared for our visit by looking at the world through blue-tinted eyes... inspired by Penguin Young Readers' "Educator's Guide to the Works of Deborah Freedman". 

Many thanks for this image, to  Stephanie McCreary  and  Allison Stout  of  Pattonville Schools  in Missouri!

Many thanks for this image, to Stephanie McCreary and Allison Stout of Pattonville Schools in Missouri!