Nonfiction Monday: Building on Nature


Building on Nature: the Life of Antoni Gaudi by Rachel Rodriguez, illustrated by Julie Paschkis

This picture book biography of the renowned Spanish architect and artist is a true celebration of his art and gift.  Readers follow Gaudi from his sickly boyhood to his dreams of rebuilding cathedrals and his study of architecture.  Then, of course, Gaudi goes his own way, covering a house in colorful tiles, creating ramps for horses to reach a stable in the basement, and making balconies from what looks like huge bones.  All of his buildings are unique and unlike anyone else’s.  They turn the rules on their head and are filled with imaginative touches, both small and big.  The book ends with a fascinating author’s note, links to see photos of the buildings online, and a bibliography.

Rodriguez takes a complicated subject and lengthy life and distills them down to just the right level for young readers.  She excels as using only a few words, not over-explaining things, and letting Gaudi’s work speak for itself.  As she describes Gaudi’s buildings, her prose is almost poetry.  Paschkis’ gouache illustrations are vivid, colorful and dynamic.  Her work embraces the swirling lines of Gaudi’s celebrating him in ever whorl. 

Recommended for art classes in elementary schools, this picture book captures the essence of Gaudi with style and color.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy received from publisher.

Check out the interview with illustrator Julie Paschkis on Jacket Knack.

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