cover image Farmhouse


Sophie Blackall. Little, Brown, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-316-52894-8

In rhythmic, lightly rhyming verse and densely textured multimedia spreads whose collaged layers mimic the strata of stories built up over generations, two-time Caldecott Medalist Blackall relays the history of a white clapboard farmhouse “where twelve children/ were born and raised,/ where they learned to crawl,/ in the short front hall.” Gently affectionate lines and impish portraits of the siblings, who read as white, imagine their young lives in mischief, play, and work as they “whispered secrets,/ played truth or dare,/ and lost their teeth/ and brushed their hair.” Cleverly rendered cutaway images, meanwhile, hint visually at adjoining rooms while centering myriad objects: rag rugs, prize ribbons, “a button/ that was once a shell in the sea,” and more. After the last family member eventually departs, and the house falls into decay (“the parlor organ that rattled with nuts,/ put there by a squirrel with rather a fuss”), a turn toward authorial self-insertion pushes the once unsalvageable “falling-down house” into the here and now. The tale’s strong sense of place undergirds Blackall’s witness to the way environments change over time and stories survive long after material objects disappear, in a thoughtful, expertly executed work that looks simultaneously forward and back. An author’s note details the story behind the Upstate New York farmhouse. Ages 4–8. Agent: Nancy Gallt, Gallt & Zacker Literary. (Sept.)