Picture Books about Houses: Farmhouse and House Finds a Home

Farmhouse and House Finds a Home honor the ordinary structures that shelter and sustain growing families.

Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall. Little, Brown, 2022, 48 pages.

Reading Level: Picture Book, ages 4-8

Recommended for: ages 2-10

“Over a hill, at the end of a road, by a glittering stream that twists and turns, stands a house . . .”

Thus begins one very long sentence that twists and turns through the history of a single family with twelve children that occupies a two-story white frame house in the country. Seasons turn, the family grows, the little ones get in trouble, the older ones milk cows in the pre-dawn hours, Mother cooks and cooks (and cooks) as Father keeps up with seasonal chores on the farm. The children grow up and go their separate ways, but the youngest remains until the day when, “now quite old,” she takes a last look and locks up the house before joining her sister on a trip to the sea.

Sophie Blackall, two-time Caldecott award winner, became the owner of this very house when she bought a farm in upstate New York. To create this illustrations for this book she included salvaged scraps of newspaper, wallpaper, clothing, curtains, and more. Descendants of the family, many of whom still live in the valley, provided anecdotes and reflections. It’s a stunning tribute to ordinary life in the early 20th century and the house that gave a family shelter and structure.

Overall Rating: 4.5

Worldview/moral value: 4

Artistic/literary value: 5

House Finds a Home by Katie Duffield, illustrated by Jen Corace. Viking, 2022, 40 pages.

Reading Level: Picture Book, ages 0-4

Recommended for: ages 2-5

“Over the years, House and his people had made mountains of memories.” But the years go on, and times change, including the original family to occupy this craftsman-style 1930s structure. We see cutaway views of rooms where everyday memories are made: reading aloud, dancing to the phonograph, day-dreaming in a cozy bedroom. But in time the original family moves away, and House stands empty and bereft. Until the day a new family arrives, and House becomes a home again.

I object to the standard realtor terminology of “Homes for Sale.” A house is not a home until someone is living there, a distinction this picture book recognizes. Over the years, successive families move in and make the original structure reflect their own styles and interests, and House gladly welcomes each one. The layout shows the same cutaway view with different families and décor that small children (and older ones, too) will enjoy comparing. Parents may feel a tug on their heartstrings as they reflect on the various houses that they’ve called home.

Overall Rating: 4

Worldview/moral value: 3.75

Artistic/literary value: 4.5

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Also at Redeemed Reader

Reviews: Both these picture books will remind parents (of a certain age) of Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House, which is well worth a reread. And there are songs, too.

Reviews: Other books by Sophie Blackall: Finding Winnie and A Fine Dessert.

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