Humanity prevails as war opens in 1930’s China. THE HOUSE THAT BABA BUILT by Caldecott Award winner Ed Young pays tribute to his father, Baba, and his wise decision to build a house to save his family. Through the eyes of a young boy, Young remembers living in the house with his family, relatives, and friends as changes occurred within and outside the thick walls. Amid the sounds and terror of war, Baba’s decisive choice preserves his family’s entity within the protective walls so that they can continue with their daily lives – swimming, drawing, meal times, games, and more. Young’s innocent childhood is filled with happy and creative memories.
In time of war, love exists. Young delivers his autobiography with his creative collage technique, cut and torn paper mixed with other different materials. Beginning with the book cover, one senses the strength of the book through the heavily drawn lines of the gate and strong large capital fonts chosen for the title and author’s name. Sprinkled in between the black iron bars are twelve curlicues to soften the hard bold lines, predicting the endurance of a strong house filled with love.
The young boy at the bottom of the cover is lying on the floor with his watchful eyes and listening ears, gathering many memories revealed in the following pages. The pages open with caricatures, diagrams, photographs, and drawings that interplay well with the text. Bold colors, dramatic diagonal lines and irregular shapes create the feeling of war’s unrest.
Dramatic drama plays out as each page opens or foldout with deliberate linear drawings, sharp color contrasts, jagged torn shapes, and those dark hovering menacing black crows. Young has created a book of many contrasts. Kudos for another successful book. Young’s Afterword and Author’s Note close with the family timeline, how the book developed, and hand drawn floor plans to THE HOUSE THAT BABA BUILT.
Ages 8 – 12. Recommended by Cecile Wong, Librarian (retired) Maryland USA