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Our Favorite Shelter Books for Kids

Posted on April 13 2013

A House is a House for Me Hoberman


I am certain that there are abundant great kids books on modern architecture these days, but there are two shelter books that we read over and over to our daughters. Both were favorites of mine as a child, and our nearly-four year old seems as big a fan as I was. First: A House Is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman, was originally published in 1978, and the fantastic, detailed illustrations by Betty Fraser are ever-so 70's in the most current way. The bouncing poem considers all kinds of objects as shelters:

Cartons are houses for crackers.

Castles are houses for kings.

The more that I think about houses,

The more things are houses for things.

And if you get started in thinking,

I think you will find it is true

That the more that you think about houses for things,

The more things are houses to you.

The next favorite of ours is:

 Big Orange Splot Pinkwater

In this fine story,  The Big Orange Splot, by Daniel Pinkwater, a man named Mr. Plumbean "ruins" his Levittown-ish street after a seagull drops a can of paint on his roof. Instead of cleaning it up, as his neighbors request, he uses it as a starting point for a wild whole-house mural. Neighbors come to talk some sense into him, but he replies "My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams." His gospel spreads down the street, and eventually all the neighbors express themselves architecturally. Beware all die-hard modernists: this book celebrates useless ornament in all its glory, but I love the absurdity, the death of cookie cutter houses, and the idea that our built environments can reflect our identities.

As an added perk, "Mr. Plumbean" is a great code name for any architectural eccentric in your hood. We are pleased to have at least three within blocks of our abode.

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