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1st ed.
Publisher, Date:
New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013.
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ; 31 cm.
A young girl narrates her family's move from the city to the country, where they have bought a piece of land and live in a trailer while they build a house from the ground up, with help from relatives and friends.
Call Number:
Ej Bea
Total Copies:
Available Copies:
Current Holds:
0374380236 (hardcover)
9780374380236 (hardcover)

A young girl narrates her family's move from the city to the country, where they have bought a piece of land and live in a trailer while they build a house from the ground up, with help from relatives and friends. - (Baker & Taylor)

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
Winner of the 2013 Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Best Picture Book
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2013
A New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of 2013

In this unique construction book for kids who love tools and trucks, readers join a girl and her family as they pack up their old house in town and set out to build a new one in the country. Mom and Dad are going to make the new house themselves, from the ground up. From empty lot to finished home, every stage of their year-and-a-half-long building project is here. And at every step their lucky kids are watching and getting their hands dirty, in page after page brimming with machines, vehicles, and all kinds of house-making activities!

As he imagines it through the eyes of his older sister, Building Our House is Jonathan Bean's retelling of his own family's true experience, and includes an afterword with photographs from the author's collection.

- (McMillan Palgrave)

Trade Reviews

Booklist Reviews

An author's note reveals that this picture book is based on personal experience, as Bean's parents built their own house when he was a young child. Here we follow a mother, father, two children (and, eventually, a new baby) over the course of a year and a half—through a harsh winter and plenty of lumber pickups—all the way to move-in day at their new abode. Told from the point of view of the oldest child, a girl, the challenges and rewards involved in constructing from scratch become clear. The kids are not exempt from the do-it-yourself action, and they happily help "fill the loud mixing machine." Bean (At Night, 2007) makes use of every inch of the tall trim size here, filling his pages to the brim with heavily lined illustrations of bustling people and activity—often as a series of four vignettes across a spread. What's heartwarming throughout is the depiction of a tight-knit family ("My family makes up a strong crew of four"). The author's concluding personal photos add to the loving feel. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

Bean draws on childhood memories to demonstrate the process of building a house, DIY-style. A little girl narrates the engaging and warm account; the steps are broken down into captions for half-page panels, while moments of greater import, such as setting the corners for the foundation, receive full- and double-page spreads. Family and friends make not just a house but a cozy home.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Drawing on childhood memories from his own family's house construction (see author's note), Bean creates an engaging story as well as a glimpse into a warm family setting. A little girl narrates, and her childlike voice provides an immediacy that removes any hint of nostalgia. She relates her contributions not as they are but as she perceives them in all their exaggerated glory; illustrations tell a different tale. For example, when she observes that "bad weather slows our work but doesn't stop it," readers see Mom and Dad trudging through the snow with building supplies while the little girl and her smaller brother go sledding. Similarly, once the frame is completed, the narrator indicates a flurry of activity: "We start our work inside. Our plans show us where to place walls that will make the rooms." Here youngsters will see the girl curled up asleep beside a newly installed woodstove. Other details, such as Mother's pregnancy and the birth of a new baby, appear only in the muted watercolors outlined in pen and ink. Detailed steps in the process are broken down into one- or two-sentence captions for half-page, unframed panels, while moments of greater import, such as setting the corners for the foundation, receive full- and double-page spreads. The circular shapes of trees, hills, and even the Airstream-like trailer the family lives in during construction clearly show that this is not just a house but a cozy home. betty carter

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Not unlike Dan Yaccarino did in All the Way to America, Bean (At Night) turns family history into something larger, in this case a romantic portrait of the rewards of diligence, teamwork, and a DIY mentality. In a concluding note accompanied by family photos, Bean explains that the story is based on his family's experience of building a farmhouse when he was a toddler. A sense of familial dedication and cohesiveness fills the pages, with narration coming from a character modeled after Bean's older sister. The pale, matte illustrations are a flurry of activity (and filled with the sort of construction details that children adore), as the family equips a trailer to serve as temporary digs, buys lumber, builds a foundation, hosts a frame-raising party, and eventually turns to interior work. Bean's pictures provide a supplementary visual narrative (Mom becomes pregnant, an infant appears), and the father offers suitably dadlike truisms like "The right tool for the right job" throughout. A warm look at the nuts and bolts of building a house and turning it into a home. Ages 3–6. Agent: Anna Webman, Curtis Brown. (Jan.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

School Library Journal Reviews

PreS-Gr 2—A year-and-a-half-long adventure of building a cozy home in the countryside involves an entire family of four. The oldest child describes the construction of the house, expertly shown in appealing soft-colored illustrations that vary in size from full spreads to small vignettes. Water and electricity are shown being connected to a temporary home in a trailer so the family can live on the property while the work is being done. Friends and family help out from time to time during the creation of the small timber-frame home, but the girl's parents perform the majority of work on their own (a third child arrives in the course of the story). Engaging pictures are reminiscent of Lisa Campbell Ernst's charming illustrations and are based on the building of the author/illustrator's childhood home. An author's note includes Bean's family photographs. Lovingly told, this captivating tale will help satisfy a child's curiosity of what it takes to create a building from scratch.—Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI

[Page 71]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Large Cover Image
Author Biography

JONATHAN BEAN received an M.F.A. from New York's School of Visual Arts and now lives and works in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His first book,At Night, won the 2008 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and he is also the illustrator of two acclaimed picture books by Lauren Thompson,The Apple Pie That Papa Baked and One Starry Night. Jonathan's parents still live in the house the family built, outside of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania.

- (McMillan Palgrave)

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