Deborah Freedman, an architect turned picture book writer and illustrator, has written and illustrated a new picture book that takes a poetic look at houses and homes. This House, Once explores all of the elements that go into the history of a house and asks the reader to think, “where do you live, and what was your home, once?”
The house on the cover is drawn page by page, and brick by brick, the illustrations appear. The first lines read: “This door was once a colossal oak tree/about three hugs around/and as high as the blue,” and on the opposite page is a square door with a red doorknob. Turn the page, and that door is now a square in an oak tree. The house, blanketed in snow, has a warm fire that warms the house from within, and the bricks and the stones and the slate are all drawn individually, and then come together to create a beautiful home.
Freedman’s illustrations evoke splashing in the mud, looking up high at the tall oak tree, and sitting cozily in front of a fire during a blizzard. This gorgeous book makes you think about your own history, and how often, what the earth gives us, we need to give back in return.