What Makes a House? Find out this Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Childhood memories can seem the most distant and unreachable, like the Milkyway. But I have come to learn that with the right memory trigger, like a smell, taste, or sound, a long forgotten memory has a way of filling the mind with clarity. In my case, a childhood memory returned when I opened Deborah Freedman’s picture book, This house, once.

As the different parts came together to make a house in this book, the memory returned when my parents bought a wooded piece of land in the country. I recalled the countless weekends my family drove out to see the building progress. Trucks of different sizes dug a deep, deep hole for the foundation, stacked up stones for sturdy walls, added windows, and doors. I remember playing with my sister around the building site after the trucks drove away. We dug through the sand and earth with our bare hands, searching for dinosaur bones and other treasures, but instead found stones, insects, and frogs. Week after week, we anxiously awaited the day or parents would announce moving day. And then that happy day came. Decades have passed. Another family lives in my childhood home. But the memories are mine to hold.

Title – This house, once

Written and Illustrated by – Deborah Freedman

Published by- Atheneum Books for Young Readers – 2017

Topics – building a house, creating something, nature

Opening – This door was once a colossal oak tree about three hugs around and as high as the blue.

(Is anyone else smiling about the oak tree being about three hugs around?)

Synopsis from Amazon – Deborah Freedman’s masterful new picture book is at once an introduction to the pieces of a house, a cozy story to share and explore, and a dreamy meditation on the magic of our homes and our world.

This poetically simple, thought-provoking, and gorgeously illustrated book invites readers to think about where things come from and what nature provides.

Why do I like this book? I honestly can’t tell you which is more stunning, the text or the illustrations. Deborah Freedman is equally gifted in both the writer’s world and the illustrator’s. I was most taken in by her thoughtfulness in describing each “ingredient” needed to build a house from the door to the stones which were once tucked beneath a blanket of leaves. Each page offers another reason to love this book.

Learn more about Deborah Freedman and her books HERE.


If you have a fond, funny, or otherwise memorable memory about creating or building something from scratch, I would love to hear about it in the comments.

Until next Friday!


  1. Grade ONEderful

    I love it when something instantly transports you back to your childhood. For me it’s the smell of construction sites because we were in Edmonton at a time when things were booming and all sorts of buildings were going up.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

      It is amazing how our brains never really forget. We just need the right trigger to bring back memories.

  2. books4learning

    This book looking intriguing! Thanks for the suggestion.

    • Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

      It’s quite a marvelous book. I hope if you check it out from your library that you enjoy it.

  3. Jilanne Hoffmann

    Wow! This sounds wonderful! And so is your memory of the house-building. I’ll bet this one has found a permanent place in your collection.

    • Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

      Oh, yes it has, Jilanne. I was at a book fair when I saw this treasure at the publisher’s booth. I knew I had to add this book to my shelf after reading only the first page. That oak tree that is three hugs around won my heart.

  4. julie rowan zoch

    I love the illustrations!

  5. Maria Marshall

    I really like this book. It is endearing and thought provoking. Glad you’re back AND you featured it!

    • Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

      Thanks, Maria, every now and then my family’s needs take up a big part of my plate, and my blog has to come in second or third on my list.

      I like this book quite a lot, too. I saw it at the publisher’s booth at a book fair and fell in love with it after reading only the first page.

  6. Patricia Tilton

    This book is really unique. I love the illustrations! You gave us enough to wet our appetites. Will check it out! Thank you.

    • Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

      I hope when you read this book and look at the lovingly created illustrations you love it as much as I do.