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.
Freedman builds her story as she piece-by-piece builds a house. A small, lyrical statement accompanies each object (door, window, roof) as it is presented as part of the growing house. A beautiful, full-color, wordless spread follows, in which each item returns to where it began: the windows to the sandy beach, the wooden door to the heart of a tree. But Freedman’s is not a story about deforestation. Hers is a world of attentive shaping and art, the act of creating a home to protect and care for those living inside. Curious wild animals prod the mud and frolic on the pages, adding another layer of belonging and contentment.
Freedman’s illustrations are subdued and soft, but with detail that demonstrates her architectural background. Even the snowstorm that engulfs the house seems less a threat than an invitation to sit by the fireplace. Like a craftsperson with her tools, Freedman chooses her words with precision and significance. Her un-rhymed poetry rings with unique metaphors and similes, polished with gentle alliteration. Freedman also endows the house with sentiment and thought, a comforting reminder of where we call home.
The perfect gift for all ages, This House, Once will warm any home, regardless of the season. No fireplace needed.