This book is a treasure.

What’s Farmhouse About?

Author and Illustrator, Sophie Blackall has given us a beautiful storybook about the importance of stories themselves. Her subject: an old house that she came upon in the woods. Through her work, Blackall imagines the people who were born and grew old in the house. She creates animals that moved in when the house was later abandoned. Finally, she shares her own story, the discovery of the house, and how she created this treasure of a book.

The Amazing Way Blackall Wrote & Illustrated Farmhouse

Using bits of tattered curtains that she found in the house, scraps of old newsprint, layers of wallpaper, and paint, she manages to fill every page with startling and intimate details. As with the layers in her illustrations, the layers in this story about storytelling run deep.

Like an archeologist driven by love and communicating with respect and true artistry, Blackwell leaves the reader, young or old, with a palpable connection to a family’s life set in a time and place that are now long gone. She does all this while masterfully reminding the reader that they too have a story to tell that is as rich and as unforgettable as the ones she has captured here. 

Why I Loved It (from Annie with love)

On a personal note, this book reminds me of my mother.

Mom & Me circa 1972

If you know my mother you will know that she loves treasure, just not the kind you are thinking of. My mother has this uncanny gift (like a hawk spotting its prey from miles above) to spot treasure: a single lost earring wedged into a sidewalk crack, a china doll missing its arms in the wall of our house, a framed photo of a friendly looking gorilla on the bottom shelf at the thrift shop.

Some of her Found Treasures!

Wonder Woman was found on a fence post. The earrings she spotted on the sidewalk. I don’t have pictures of them but two weeks later she found two tiny but REAL diamonds in about the same place!
Look at all these treasures!

These are just a few. If you were to open any drawer in her house you would find little surprises, little bits of wonder that signify for me the playfulness that resides in her and, just like Blackall, her abiding love of a good story.

Do You Love A Great Story?

In my mother’s case, it is not, after all, the trinket or the treasure that fascinates her, but the wearer of that single earring or the child who decided he was too old for the gorilla picture, or a hundred years ago the person who dropped their doll somewhere in the house and looked for it for ages.

Like Blackall, my mother has a reverence for lives lived before hers and a curiosity infused with humor and creativity toward the people that she meets. This book review is for my mother and all the mothers who are themselves bridges between the past and future, recording each trinket and treasure, and always making sure that our stories are told.

What’s your story?

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