This is the story of a farmhouse, and the family that lived there, and the passage of time, and the everlastingness of stories. I read this book three times in a row- once page by page, reading the words and then the pictures before moving on, then again for the words, and finally once more to pour over the detailed illustrations. The text is a tale across seasons and decades, written in one long beautifully poetic sentence that imagines the escapades and dreams of twelve children growing up in the farmhouse and then how the house turned back to nature before being discovered by the narrator who used it for inspiration to tell their story. The detailed imagery and the rhythm of the words is a treat to read.
The illustrations include collage layers built on the back of a roll of wallpaper and created from scraps and fragments found in the farmhouse. The cut away images of the farmhouse - different rooms throughout the story, ending with a diagram of the entire house - are reminiscent of a dollhouse and deeply satisfying to the part of me that spent hours creating miniatures for my dolls as a child. There are so many details in each image you could pour over them for ages, searching for the items or stories in the text, and marveling at the intricacy.
An author's note tells the story of Sophie Blackall purchasing this old farmhouse and exploring the rundown treasures as well as researching the history of the family who lived there.