I’ve always joked that I should make a category of “Uncle Jess” books, because some of our favorite treasures come from her. (Not him…Uncle Jess is indeed a woman and also my oldest friend, childhood neighbor, and somewhat distant cousin, but when Toby was very little, he just couldn’t get “Auntie” out for whatever reason). My children have been blessed with a godmother with beautiful taste in children’s books, which she has been bestowing upon them for upwards of six years. Lucky for us, she travels a good deal and often picks up books for the kids wherever she goes. A few years ago she went to England, Wales, and Scotland and sent back a stack of books that still remains at the top of our current reading pile- and she is the reason my kids are obsessed with bagpipes and dragons and the 1 o’clock cannon at the Edinburgh castle. More recently, however, she went to Chicago, home of Frank Lloyd Wright, and sent back a beautifully designed coloring book, a guide to the houses he designed, and this week’s book, Young Frank Architect, by Frank Viva. Thanks, Uncle Jess!
It’s another gorgeously designed book by the author/illustrator of the book Along A Long Road, Frank Viva. He tells the story of a young boy named Frank (but not Lloyd Wright) who lives with his grandfather, an architect also named Frank (also not Lloyd Wright), in New York City.
Young Frank wants to be an architect just like his grandfather. He builds furniture out of whatever items he has at hand, designs cities, and makes tall windy (that’s to say they wind around, not that they are windy, as in, say, Chicago) towers. Old Frank, however, is skeptical. Architects do not design furniture. Cities take a hundred years to build. Buildings have to be straight. He dismisses Young Frank’s creations.
Finally, Old Frank decides to show Young Frank what real architects have done. He takes him to the Museum of Modern Art. At MoMA, they find a wiggly chair and a twisted building designed by Frank O. Gehry. They find a model of an entire city designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
“Are all architects named Frank?” asked Young Frank.
“I don’t think so,” said Old Frank.
Old Frank is understandably surprised to find such impractical designs by such respected masters of the trade. He is reminded that it takes great imagination to be a great artist, and rather than quashing Young Frank’s fanciful ideas, he gets down on the ground with him and begins to create. They have both grown a little wiser.
Isn’t that a wonderful message? Children are naturally so open-minded and curious and creative. They realize that inventiveness and practicality don’t always have to go hand in hand. We adults forget that sometimes, though. I love the storytelling, love the essence, and love the illustrations. Frank Viva knocks me out.
We brought home Iggy Peck, Architect from the library a couple of months ago, and both of my kids loved it. Similar to Young Frank, Iggy was a budding architect creating towers of blocks and anything else he could find, until he ended up saving his class by building a suspension bridge. Definitely worth reading, as well.
Just as a reminder, the above link is to my affiliate page via Amazon. I don’t receive free books, but if you were to click on that link and order this book, I would receive a small commission. You can bypass this by ordering directly from amazon.com, powells.com, or even better, visit your local independent bookseller.