Skip to main content

The Story of Buildings by Patrick Dillon, illustrated by Stephen Biesty, 96 pp, RL 4

For those of you not familiar with the amazing work of Stephen Biesty, be sure to read my review ofInto the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea and Air, written by Stewart Ross. Sadly, most of Biesty's cross section books are now out of print, but his work shines even brighter when he pairs with other authors, as in Into the Unknown, and now The Story of Buildings, written by Patrick Dillon. On writing The Story of Buildings, Dillon says, "My two favorite things are stories and buildings. Telling stories about buildings is as good as it gets." Dillon begins The Story of Buildings with building a house, writing, "How people left caves and learned to make places like your home is the story of buildings." From a stick shelter to the various kinds of brickwork (English, Flemish and American) to igloos, teepees, tents and a Musgum hut, Dillon takes readers on a journey through time that provides a solid overview for the more detailed information to come. To this, Biesty adds his expertise. Of his work on The Story of Buildings, he said, "I wanted each cross section to be a unique hand-drawn dissection that reveals and explains the structure of a famous building and shows how people live inside it in miniature detail." Added to this, there is also a timeline and index at the back of the book.

While The Story of Buildings kicks off with the Pyramid of Djoser, Dillon and Biesty take readers on a tour that mostly focuses on Greater European landmarks like the Parthenon, Notre Dame, Villa Rotonda, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Melk Abbey, the Crystal Palace, the Bauhaus and the Pompidou Center. But he also features Hagia Sofia, the Taj Mahal, the Forbidden City, the Chrysler Building and the Sydney Opera House. Two page spreads featuring individual buildings have one or two half-page gatefolds that add to the information, focusing on building styles, terminology and interesting facts.  

The chapters featuring buildings are interspersed with chapters that cover the historical, cultural and social aspects of various time periods that gives an overview of the movements and thinking that resulted in each unique building. The Greeks and the Romans are featured along with chapters on the Renaissance and the Baroque in Europe. There are also chapters on "Living in the Past," "Modern Buildings," "The International Style" and a final chapter on the Straw Bale House with the title, "Think Before You Build" that is a wonderful conclusion to the vast scope of architecture presented. With a gentle hand, Dillon points out that, while we are still asking the same questions that the first builders asked when they set out to create a shelter, today we "have to ask some new questions as well" and learn to "make buildings that harm the earth less."

The Story of Buildings is a magnificent book, both for the overview of information collected within as well as Dillon's straightforward presentation and ability to focus on what will appeal to young readers most, but it is Biesty's intricate, crisp illustrations that will draw readers - even those who are not year able to read the text - to this wonderful book and hook them!

Source: Review Copy


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…