Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Children’s Book Review, Puffin the Architect

Children's Book Review by Susan Stephenson,

Puffin the Architect is a children’s picture book by NZ author/illustrator, Kimberly Andrews, published by Puffin, an imprint of Penguin Random House (2018.) RRP: $Au 24.99 HB.

From the publisher:

Puffin is an architect who always exceeds her clients’ expectations. That is, until she takes on the toughest clients ever – her own pufflings!

Puffin takes her tricky new clients on an inspirational tour of her builds. Together they visit all kinds of cleverly designed spaces –Otter's floating home, Pig's toolshed on wheels, Painter Goose's light-filled studio and Platypus's cosy underground bakehouse.

The pufflings are unimpressed.

Her clients really are a challenge! Will Puffin come up with a puffling-perfect home design?

This is a picture book that kids will pore over. I certainly did. It’s a story about a grown up Puffin who’s an architect and trying to figure out what sort of home to design for two pufflings. The young birds see inside many homes, reading excellent rhyming poems about the houses’ contents, but are never quite satisfied, until …. At the end of the story we discover Puffin’s gender, and who the pufflings belong to, making the book even more satisfying.

I LOVED the illustrations! Andrews understands what fascinates children. There are many cut-aways, showing us what’s on the inside of different structures. There are snippets of blue prints and plans. There are wonderful animal characters busy doing things, from Platypus who’s baking bread, to Moose, who’s lifting his groceries via a pulley. And there are lots of clever details. On the double spread that shows Detective Hound’s home, we read he has:

A lot of clever cupboards for his solved
and unsolved cases.
And furniture that folds away,
revealing hidden spaces
AND a tunnel system underground
that leads to secret places.

and we see those entrancing details depicted very skilfully. Puffins themselves definitely belong to the cute creature coterie, but I found the actual animal homes the stand out feature of this book. What an amazing resource for kids to use when they design homes for themselves!

I just know children will love this book. I hope it might inspire some of them to be architects. With the current emphasis on STEM books (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Puffin the Architect makes an excellent choice for schools, homes and libraries everywhere. I’ll be adding it to my List of Picture Books that Celebrate Diversity.

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