BK Story Voyager Picks: A House that Once Was

By Laura Ennis, BK Story Voyager Librarian

A House that Once Was
By Julie Fogliano and Illustrated by Lane Smith
(For readers in preschool through first grade)

Two children discover an abandoned house in “A House that Once Was”. As they play in it they discover it is filled with questions: Who lived in the house? Who walked down its hallways? Their imaginations begin to supply answers (an old man who longed for the sea, a cowboy, a queen, etc.), and this prods them and the reader to explore further into what makes a house a home.


Julie Fogliano, an Ezra Jack Keats award winning author, uses poetic threads to weave his story about the mysteries that an empty house contains.  Lane Smith, a Caldecott winning illustrator, depicts Fogliano’s magical world with a collage of textures to set off his colorful images, which lends a third dimension that beckons the reader in. As the children speculate on who could have lived in this house, Smith’s drawing become more ghost-like. And as the guessing grows silly, the images become more playful. Together Fogliano and Smith have created a story which any child will enjoy.


This book speaks to the wandering child, who likes to go on adventures, ask questions, and use their imagination along the way. “A House that Once Was” is the perfect read for the creative child!

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