The Picture Book Buzz

Bear Builds A House - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

I remember exploring our house as it was built. Imagining what the rooms would look like from the basic framing. Watching wires, pipes, and lights appear, hide, and get rediscovered ("wasn't there another light in this room?"). It was a magical time. And easy to forget how much is behind or under the walls - until something breaks. This is a fun book that takes the reader through the process of building a house.

Bear Builds A House


Author/Illustrator: Maxwell Eaton III


Publisher: Neal Porter Books/Penguin Random House (2022)


Ages: 4-8


Fiction


Themes:

Building a house, STEM, engineering, construction, environmental action, and friendship.


Synopsis:

The bear from Maxwell Eaton’s Bear Goes Sugaring returns in this fascinating follow-up, and this time, she’s going to build a house entirely from scratch! To do so, she’ll need time, careful planning, sturdy materials, and a whole lot of help from. . . most of her friends.


Readers will see a house built before their very eyes as they are guided through detailed descriptions of each step in the construction process, from site selection, to chopping trees to make wooden planks, to laying down foundations, insulation, and power and plumbing. Key to the process is Bear’s attention to sustainable architecture, an excellent lesson for kids who want to learn about clean energy and sustainable planning.


As in Bear Goes Sugaring, readers will love Maxwell Eaton’s humorous approach to a serious subject and the antics and funny dialogue that Bear’s animal cohorts contribute.


Opening Lines:

Spring has arrived, and Bear is on the move . . .

She’s been caring for a friend’s house, but now it’s time

to build one of her own. It will take thoughtful planning,

mountains of hard work, and a few good friends to get it

done before the snow falls again. And it all starts now!


What I LIKED about this book:

Using a graphic style, with speech bubbles, panels, narrative blocks, diagrams, and colorful spot illustrations, this book explores the process of building a house. Bear, with her friends Beaver, Woodchuck, Bobcat, Raccoon, and a cadre of companions, sets out to build her house and outbuildings (including an outhouse, because she "prefers the simplicity") before winter arrives.

Text & Image © Maxwell Eaton III, 2022.

Though slightly wordy, the book presents a detailed look at the process of building a house. Beginning with siting choices and architectural drawings, the book also provides a "behind-the-scenes" look at the materials (lumber, pipes, concrete, insulation....) and important tools used in constructing a house. And it offers an in-depth evaluation of some of the more technical aspects (defining a 2'x6'x8', types of foundations, water systems...) of creating a house in a fun and sometimes snarky way. It's sure to entertain budding builders.

Text & Image © Maxwell Eaton III, 2022.


For kids (and adults) who may not have ever seen a house under construction, it is intriguing and enlightening.

Text & Image © Maxwell Eaton III, 2022.


An author's note provides a touch of environmental activism, asking readers to consider the impacts that certain materials have on the ecosystem (such as "a parade of short-lived electronics"). Overall, it is an engaging look at the interaction of engineering, architecture, construction, and trades in the creation of a house.


Resources:

- look at bear's diagram of her house, can create one for your house or apartment? How about a site plan for your yard of neighborhood?

- create your own design for a house and build it out of Lego blocks, wood blocks, cardboard, sugar cubes, Lincoln logs, or perhaps sticks, whatever supplies you have at hand. (https://www.planetpals.com/craft_recycle_doll_house.html)

- read Building Our House by Jonathan Bean. What's different and what's the same about the way the houses were built?

- what do you think makes a house a home? Draw a picture, create a list, or write a poem about what it take to make a home.


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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