HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Building Our House, by Jonathan Bean | Book Review
Building Our House by Jonathan Bean

Building Our House, by Jonathan Bean | Book Review

The Children’s Book Review | July 7, 2016

Building Our House by Jonathan BeanBuilding Our House  

Written and Illustrated by Jonathan Bean

Age Range: 4-9

Hardback: 48 pages

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers (2013)

ISBN: 978-0-374-38023-6

What to expect: Building, Family, Patience, Cooperation, Work, Seasons

Jonathan Bean (Big Snow) takes his readers on a journey to the countryside in Building Our House.

Building Our House chronicles one family’s step-by-step process of constructing a home from the ground up. A young girl (who narrates the story) moves with her mother, father, and baby brother from the city to the country. When they arrive at their plot of land (via a truck named “Willys”), there are no buildings in sight. The family lives in a trailer while they begin to build their forever home. Over the course of about eighteen months, the little family of four enlists the help of neighbors and relatives to make their dream home a reality. Setbacks occur (in the form of early frost and snow) and work happens at all hours, but the house still grows steadily (as does the mother’s pregnant belly). Finally, on an early spring day, the little family (of five, now that there is a newborn in the mix) officially moves into their from-scratch house, tired but completely content.

Jonathan Bean Building Our House

Building Our House is based on Bean’s own childhood experience, which he discusses at the book’s end. Perhaps Bean’s closeness to the story is what makes the writing so effective. The young daughter’s narration strikes the perfect balance between simple vocabulary and interesting detail. As in his other books, Bean’s evocative illustrations beautifully enhance his story. Not only do the pictures serve to better explain the building process, but they also perfectly capture the feelings of each season and the coziness of family.

Building Our House is a treasure trove of lessons for children, from the concrete (building a house takes time and work) to the abstract (cooperation and patience are invaluable when working toward a goal). Bean’s story opens children’s eyes to the real work that goes into any structure and gives them appreciation for that hard work. In this day of instant gratification from our DVRs, our tablets, and our phones, Building Our House offers all of us a welcome (and much-needed) change of perspective.

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About Jonathan Bean

JONATHAN BEAN received an M.F.A. from New York’s School of Visual Arts and now lives and works in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His first book, At Night, won the 2008 Boston GlobeHorn Book Award, and he is also the illustrator of two acclaimed picture books by Lauren Thompson, The Apple Pie That Papa Baked and One Starry Night. Jonathan’s parents still live in the house the family built, outside of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania.

“Building Our House,” written and illustrated by Jonathan Bean, was reviewed by Kelley Smith. Discover more books like “Building Our House” by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with , and 

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Kelley Smith is a former high school science teacher and a current stay-at-home mom. She fell in love with books many decades ago, after reading her first chapter book (Ramona the Pest) with no adult assistance. Kelley loves reading to her two children and sometimes, her three pets listen, too.

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