Deep in the woods on the top of a hill is a house, it is ‘a house that once was’. A house that has long been left but is just begging to be explored. To get to the house you creep up the winding path that is overgrown with weeds and arrive at ‘a door that is closed but not quite’ before slipping in through ‘a window that once opened wide’. Once you are inside, there is much to discover. From photos hanging on the walls to bottles and jars to clothes and toys. Who lived in a house like this…
A House That Once Was is a beautifully evocative story about two young children who discover an abandoned house. It is all the best bits of being a child; discovering new places, having adventures and letting your imagination dream up the possibles. The story follows the children as they enter the house and rummage through the previous occupant’s possessions they begin to wonder who might have lived there. Was it a painter, a dancer, a pilot, a seaman, even a King or Queen? Then their minds turn to what might have happened to the occupants. Perhaps they were shipwrecked, maybe they moved to Paris or could they simply be lost and cannot find their way home. Once all their exploring and imaging is done, the children head back to the comfort of their own home. As the children leave, birds are shown in the house, nesting on the branches that have crept into the house. I love this idea that nature is reclaiming the house and that the house is becoming part of the natural environment.
So much to adore about this book. The words are beautiful and poetic and the artwork is so pretty. The house looks so warm and inviting. When I think of old abandoned houses it immediately has me thinking of dark, dank and cob-web filled rooms but the house in this story couldn’t be further from this. The pages are filled with beautiful illustrations that are so welcoming and inviting. The illustrations fluctuate between two different styles to show the reader what is ‘the present day’ and what is ‘being imagined’. I particularly love the the ‘present day’ illustrations and the style of the artwork that is gentle and dream-like.
A timeless tale of imagination that brings to life the memories of a previously occupied home.
Recommended for 7+.