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A luminous picture-book tribute to house and home gently evokes the passage of time, the solace of memory, and the joys of preservation and renewal.
Every house has a story. This house—an old one hunkered in the deep grass below a wide country sky—is a waiting house. Once it was full of laughter and song. The sounds of life rang within its walls. Now it stands quiet and still. The house has sheltered many families over the years and remembers them fondly, especially the children. New families arrive to look, but none stay. Perhaps the house, too, now belongs to the Long Ago and Used to Be? Or will the “right” family move in to honor its past and build new memories? Wistful and nostalgic, Mary Lyn Ray’s poetic text, combined with glowing, pastoral illustrations by E. B. Goodale that capture the lonely house’s unique character, create a quietly affecting hymn to hope and surprise that will enchant readers of all ages.
About the Author
Mary Lyn Ray is the author of many acclaimed books for children, including Go to Sleep, Little Farm, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal; New York Times bestseller Stars, illustrated by Marla Frazee; and The Thank You Book, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin. She lives in South Danbury, New Hampshire, in a home much like the one in the book, with minimal modern technology.
E. B. Goodale is an author, illustrator, and designer whose debut picture book, Windows by Julia Denos, received an Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Honor. She also illustrated Here and Now by Julia Denos and is the author-illustrator of Under the Lilacs. E. B. Goodale lives in Massachusetts with her family.
An old house takes center stage, waiting for just the right family to move in. . . . Young readers/listeners will appreciate this sweet, compassionate story and be charmed by the notion of a house serving as a protagonist; this tale should spark discussions and generate memories about kids’ own homes. . . . The soft, delicate, airy illustrations, rendered partially in muted watercolors and ink, are atmospheric and suffused with nostalgia and coziness...A reassuring conversation starter about the special connections we feel to our homes.
Long ago, a family built a house in the countryside. . . After a new family moves in and begins making new memories, the house becomes a home once again. . . Goodale contributes lively, impressionistic illustrations created with ink, watercolor, monoprint technique, and digital collage, evocatively depicting the house, some of its residents, the verdant meadow, and the night sky. This appealing picture book offers an imaginative perspective on moving.
Joining a growing shelf of picture books about dwellings that witness generational change, this quiet story by Ray (The Friendship Book) stars an old white saltbox house that has long been occupied by families. . . Lyrical lines that convey a sense of calm linger over the house’s loneliness. . . Most of the book’s attention is on time slowly elapsing, a facet that builds carefully to fulfillment, involving a family of color, that radiates forward and backward in time
The careful, gently lyrical, gently anthropomorphic text makes explicit the kind of emotional investment many children (and adults) place in their homes, and the details of country life are idyllic and inviting. Goodale’s mixed-media art radiates with verdant joy. . . Small details mark different eras, but the cast is credibly multicultural and the people are always more salient than the history. Like Wahl’s The Blue House (BCCB 7/20), this would be a tender preparation for a move to a new house or a farewell to an old one.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
The text is simple but makes readers pause, reflect, and think of their own memories and the places that provided them warmth and shelter. Vibrant but gentle illustrations done in monoprinting, watercolor, and digital collage are mesmerizing as well as tactile. . . . A visual history of a home, full of longing, and a powerful story of hope and reassurance
—School Library Journal
Ray’s quiet, eloquent text serves as a poignant meditation on appreciation: of the things we take for granted, the things we value most, and the things we cannot live without. As the house enjoys life, loss, and renewal, readers experience it, too, through Goodale’s highly expressive, textured, and fluid illustrations, a beautiful mix of monoprinting, ink, watercolor, and digital collage. The house’s longing and sadness are reflected in dark colors, shadows, silhouettes, and the moon; while cheerier hues, nature scenes, and bright sunshine reflect its joy and contentment.
—The Horn Book
This picture book, lovely in tone and illustration, personifies a country house which has seen numerous families come and go over the years. . . . The passing of seasons and of years are shown with soft, luscious illustrations which could tell the story without the words. However, the beautiful, descriptive language is not to be missed. . . . When teaching literary elements, this title could be used even in middle grades as an example of personification and figurative language
—School Library Connection
In E.B. Goodale’s moody illustrations, house and setting retain beauty to match Ray’s words.
—The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
It is a beautiful book for all ages, well timed for a wild housing market, as Americans pack up and return to their hometowns in droves, as parents reconsider what kind of childhood they want for their kids and empty houses rejoice.
—The Arlington Catholic Herald