Saturday, June 29, 2013
Building Our House
Author & Illustrator: Jonathan Bean
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Publication Year: 2013
Location: Knox County Public Library- Lawson McGhee
Awards: featured on "Calling Caldecott" blog; Kirkus, School Library Journal, & Horn Book starred reviews, Horn Book Best Book
Summary: This book is the story of Jonathan Bean's parents, who built their own house in the 1970's. The family lives in a small trailer on the country land while working on the house when his father is not at his job. The child narrator experiences all this as she is watching her future home taking shape. Many people from the community help, and the phrase "it takes a village" comes to mind. (I loved the description of the frame-raising party.) The watercolor and ink illustrations immediately brought to my mind the Busytown books of the 1970s and the text placement draws the reader into the entire process. The Author's Note dedicates the book to his "homesteader" family and shows photographs of the building of the Bean home. I love the sepia-toned end papers that show the empty rural landscape in the front and then the completed home in the back.
Classroom Ideas: Kids who love construction will love seeing the process of the homebuilding. Since Bean's family considered themselves "homesteaders," it would be interesting to compare this family to the homesteaders of the 1860s.