31 August 2022

Review: Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall

Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall book cover

* Copy courtesy of Hachette Australia *

The impact time has on people, buildings and the environment is a constant theme in my reading, and Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall is based on the true story of a house the author discovered when she purchased an old farm. The house was falling down and neglected, yet a family of twelve children had once been raised and lived within those walls. Sophie Blackall was hooked and loved exploring the items and sorting the objects left behind to piece together their stories.

Together with the fact that this children's picture book includes a 'dollhouse-like interior', I was eager to step inside Blackall's Farmhouse to learn about those who once lived there.

Farmhouse is a tribute to this house and other unnamed and unknown homes and residences which have been abandoned or outlived their purpose and which have eventually been reduced to dust in the name of progress.

Firstly, my favourite thing about this picture book are the end papers. A montage of artwork and photographs of items and materials from the house that inspired the book, it's absolutely captivating. It's like looking at a digital scrapbook of creativity, memories and the passage of time. Look closer and the curtains around the windows are scraps of fabric, look again and you'll notice newspaper clippings, photographs and scraps of wallpaper.

I was spending such a long time admiring the mixed media illustrations that when I turned a page and the text started mid sentence, it was disorienting. The entire story is told without a single full stop and while I found this bothersome, perhaps it wouldn't have been so noticeable if I'd been reading it with a child at the intended pace.

Also, I treasure and look after my books, however the dust jacket on my copy of Farmhouse is looking a little tired around the edges from minimal and careful handling, so I can't imagine how quickly this would begin to look tatty in the eager hands of little readers. (I do wonder about the wisdom of dust jackets for children's picture books, so if you have an opinion on this let me know in the comments section below).

Illustrated by the author herself, Sophie Blackall was born and raised in Australia and was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her significant service to children's literature.

I enjoyed the story behind the story and finding out the content in Farmhouse was inspired by those who actually lived there - in the author's note at the back of the book - gave greater meaning to this charming little storybook.

My Rating:

Would you like to comment?

Thanks for your comment, Carpe Librum!