Prairie Boy (Review)
Updated: Nov 21
Author: Barb Rosenstock
Illustrator: Christopher Silas Neal
Publisher: Calkins Creek, 2019
Interest Level: Grades 2 - 5
Reading Level: Ages 7 - 10
Retail: $17.99, Hardcover
Summary: A biography of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright that tells the story of how creative exploration of shapes in his early childhood set the stage for the creation of new ways to imagine living and working spaces in the modern world. The book includes endnotes and photographs of some of his most famous and influential designs.
BUILDINGS, TOO, ARE CHILDREN OF EARTH AND SUN. -- Frank Lloyd Wright
If you think that a biography of an architect would be dull to a child, this book will prove you wrong. Although this is a non-fiction book about a significant historical figure, it feels more like a story about a child exploring his imagination and identity. Parents reading this aloud will note how important it was for Wright's mother to allow and encourage his exploration without specifically directing it. There is no technical jargon in the main text about architecture. Instead, it uses the familiar ideas of shapes, play and observation to draw children in to the story and the illustrations.
The artwork in this picture book is simple and powerful, with a palette that feels both modern and vintage at the same time. The text and pictures are so masterfully crafted and intertwined, that they are hard to separate. Architectural details permeate the spreads, but do not drive the narrative in an overbearing way. My favorites are the drafting guidelines around the book title on the cover and a figure stepping inside of a blueprint to push the lines into place. It all adds up to a fresh and inviting picture book that entertains children, teaches facts about history, and encourages them to envision the world as a place they can change. I can't recommend it highly enough.
Prairie Boy received rave reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, School Library Journal, and the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. Is is also a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, and a A NSTA/CBC Best STEM Book.