building our house

Building Our House by Jonathan Bean

Told through the eyes of a young girl, this picture book chronicles her family’s move from the city to the country.  There in a bare field, they are going to build their own home.  The family works for a year and a half on their house, living in a very cozy trailer while they complete enough of the house to live in it.  Slowly the house takes shape from pegging out the corners to digging out the foundation to the incredible use of hand tools to work on the lumber for the frame.  Through it all, the entire family is involved in the process and what an amazing process it is!

There are plenty of lumber, rocks, trucks and construction in the book to keep children intrigued.  It is great to see a construction book where children are right in the middle of things, helping and getting fully engaged and dirty.  The story is based off of Bean’s own childhood when his own parents built their family home from the ground up.  It is told from his older sister’s perspective.  I think that is what really comes through in this story.  It is intensely personal but also wonderfully detailed so that children really get the feel of what it is to spend over a year building a home.

Bean’s writing and illustrations work beautifully together.  The illustrations are filled with small touches like the cats who join the family.  The seasons rush in and out, changing plans and creating a colorful background for the story.  This is a house that honors the site it is built on with all of the nature around it, the book does as well.

Get this into the hands of young construction enthusiasts definitely!  But it has appeal far beyond that since it is a story of family at its heart.  Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.