H.O.U.S.E. by Aleksandra Machowiak and Daniel Mizielinski (translated by Elzbieta Wojcik-Leese) is a book about dreams becoming reality. About imagination taking flight and bearing fruit. It’s also a nonfiction book about architecture. And, it’s wonderful!
I first came across the work of Aleksandra Machowiak and Daniel Mizielinski when I interviewed Jan Pieńkowski and asked him for some tips about Polish illustrators to look out for. With my recent addiction to books showing homes, houses and buildings through the ages I gave myself the perfect excuse to finally treat myself to H.O.U.S.E.. Why did I wait a year and a half to bring this IBBY Honour list book into our home? I don’t know, but we’re all very glad it now has a place in our house.
H.O.U.S.E. contains details of 35 unusual houses around the world. Illustrations of the actual houses are accompanied by short details on what was the inspiration for them, their location, a key to their construction and a portrait of the architect for each house. Kids love building dens and secret nooks, and this book is basically about adults who do exactly that. No wonder H.O.U.S.E. is so popular with my kids (and I’m 100% sure will excite your kids too).
Each of the houses in question is drawn, rather than photographed. I think this is an interesting decision given that these are houses which actually exist. Why would you draw something in a nonfiction book, when you could take a photo of it instead?
Perhaps the illustrations are somehow more inspiring, especially for children; photographs would make the object concrete and specific, rather than focusing on the imaginative side of the design.
By illustrating the buildings, Machowiak and Mizielinski have also been able to play with colours a lot; perhaps it’s because of the link in my head with Pieńkowski, but H.O.U.S.E. reminds me of the Meg and Mog books’ use of a limited range of flat, saturated, intense colours.
The fact the book is full of illustrations rather than photographs has encouraged us to go and find out more about each house, which I’m not sure we would have done if H.O.U.S.E. had been a photo album. It was as if we almost couldn’t believe the magic of each house – could such a fun building really exist?
The illustrations appear quite simple – black lines, plain colours, as few details as possible. My kids have looked at these and thought “Hey! I can do this”, and also “I want to do this”. Surely giving children such inspiration is a sign of a special book.
M, J and I completely adore this quirky, gorgeous, dream-inducing book. Does your school do a topic on homes/houses? Gift this book to them! Do your children like to make forts? Reserve this from the library! Do you like beautiful books? Treat yourself to H.O.U.S.E.!
Having read and returned to H.O.U.S.E. many times my girls have been drawing lots of houses, but they’ve also been building up a street of fantasy homes made out of tetrapak cartons. Here’s our recipe for doing so:
1. Rinse out your cartons and dry them.
2. Paint your cartons – we used acrylic paints as this adheres better to the carton surface than poster paint.
3. Using pretty paper, bits of silver foil, buttons, permanent pens and sticky borders (like those sold for scrapbooking or cardmaking), decorate your houses.
4. Build your street.
5. Choose which house you’d like to live in.
6. Make some people to be your neighbours… but you’ll have to wait for the next post to see how we did that!
Whilst making our houses we listened to:
We’ve also been reading these wonderful books with amazing house and building illustrations:
What’s your favourite house in children’s literature? I always wanted to live in Laura Ingalls’ dugout by Plum Creek…
H.O.U.S.E. is a great nonfiction book, so today I’m linking up with Nonfiction Monday. This week’s host is True Tales & A Cherry On Top. Do click on through to see what other books are included in this week’s celebration of children’s nonfiction books.