Building Our House

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by Jonathan Bean. Picture Book. 48 pages. Grades PreK-3.
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Review

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This is an affectionate picture book portrayal of a family building their own home from scratch. Everyone helps over the course of a year and a half while they live on site and the small family grows from two to three children.

During the 1970s "Back to the Land" movement a new wave of modern homesteaders moved to the country, built their own homes and grew their own food. Here the author draws from memories of his own childhood to tell the fictionalized story of his family's home building experience.

Told from the perspective of his older sister we start with the family and their belongings, piled into a Jeep named Willys, arriving at the field they have bought from a farmer. A small trailer for them to live in during construction follows.

There are lots of timber frame building details, and heavy machinery. All the while the focus stays on the warm and loving family creating a home together. A beautiful example of the emotional and material power of teamwork. An author's note with childhood photos show the author and his family at the actual building site.

This book won the Boston Globe Horn Book Picture Book Award.

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    Grades 1 - 4
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    At Night by Jonathan Bean. Picture Book. 32 pages.
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    A young girl can't fall asleep. All around her her family has gone off to bed. Through her window she feels the city breeze coming into her room. Gathering pillows and blankets she climbs the stairwell to the roof of the building and there she finally settles into sleep. On the final page we see her mother, who has surreptitiously followed, beside the sleeping girl sipping a hot drink and looking out at the moon over the skyline. Very cozy.

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