Review of the Week

building our houseBean, Jonathan. Building Our House. Jonathan Bean, Illus. Pic. Bk. Farrar, 2013. [42]p. $17.99. 978-0-374-38023-6. OUTSTANDING. GRADES PRE-4

In detailed and affectionate words and illustrations, Bean documents his family’s adventures as they build a house—and their own family. There is so much to do! Bean captures it all: the blank weedy lot they start with, the stacks, the piles and loads of different materials, the bad weather, the machinery, the hard work, all those tools, and the help they need from friends and family. While the text is a straight-ahead narrative of what happens next, the illustrations capture the family life that goes on in and around the house-building. The work never ends, children grow older, a new baby appears, children get tangled up with animals and do their very best to help, and everyone enjoys the occasional party. A photo collage and an author’s note describing his own parents’ five-year house-building project provides a satisfying conclusion. The clarity of the illustrations will appeal to any child who spends hours looking at a construction site, and the warmth of the family’s interactions shine through each busy picture adding depth, presence, and a host of details to draw one back for repeated readings.
Elizabeth Overmyer, Independent

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