Wednesday, September 12, 2018

NFPB Wednesday - Homes Like No Other

art by Sarah S. Brannen

      Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From her post and others, you will discover and want to celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books! 

           I paired these two books because each one tells of the building of homes. Clearly, we can't exactly get into the minds of the animals whose homes Steve Jenkins shares, but each animal, including Frank Lloyd Wright, had something important in mind, survival. If you think the design of Falling Waters isn't about survival, you need to read this book, to hear of the intense planning and preparation to create something that would fill the human need for being surrounded by nature, by beauty. 

           Steve Jenkins does his usual best in telling about animals in nature. This time, he shows the numerous variations of animal homes who need to be safe, to protect their family, and to hide from danger. Twenty animals are shown underground, above ground, using available materials to build homes, or using what's available for their homes. I knew of some, like beavers and hermit crabs and raccoons, but was shocked by others, like the tree kangaroo who stays high in trees, not building, finding the height itself to be a protection and comfort. And there is one more, the title home, that 'House in the Sky'. This describes the "common swift". It only stops to nest and that nest is built through materials they catch while flying. They are known to fly non-stop as long as ten months! Jenkins says they "eat, drink, and sleep on the wing." Robbin Gourley adds to the knowledge of these animals with her gorgeous illustrations, beautifully rendered realistically. There is additional information about each animal in the backmatter.

             Last week, Annette Pimental shared this book and her review made me want to find it at my library. I enjoyed it very much, have never had the pleasure of seeing Falling Water, but I do know about it and hope I can someday. Harshman and Smucker take readers through Wright's process of designing and building this famous home, also telling of his thought-to-be-over career in the 1930s. He hadn't designed anything new for twelve years! 
         It is a rather magical tale of Fallingwater’s progression. Inspired by the nature in the site owned by department store owner Edgar Kaufman, Wright designed and built “A house like no other,/ where sun can shine,/ where balconies fly,/ where falling water/ is heard from every room.” Pham’s illustrations, in a muted Japanese style that Wright preferred, tell the tale from opening the nearby quarry, the challenges of construction, the gift of jobs to so many during this hard time of the Depression, and to the final beauty. There is a vertical spread that shows the incredible height of this amazing home, set upon the rocks and the falls.  Author and illustrator notes at the end add additional details about the now-conserved public attraction.


  1. Thanks for the shout-out! And what a marvelous pairing. I never would have thought of the two of these together.

    1. Thanks, Annette. I had the Jenkins book already, then read your review & knew it would make a nice post together.

  2. I thought Falling Water was really interesting just because I have only heard something about it, but never knew anything about it! I haven't had any students check it out though... might take a read aloud to get interest.

    1. Yes, kids who might be interested in building things or architecture. It's definitely for the older ones. Thanks, Michele.


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