Scoop Review of Books

A Home of Their Own

Book Review
Puffin the Architect Written and illustrated by Kimberley Andrews (Puffin, $19.99)
Reviewed by Melinda Szymanik

puffin_architect_cover_webThis is a visually appealing picture book, with muted earthy tones and a charming central character in Puffin the Architect. We are quickly introduced to what being an architect means, and then the story leads us through a variety of fun, quirky examples to illustrate this, as Puffin tries to understand what her latest clients – her own children – want in a home of their own.

The text is mostly rhyming, and cleverly arranged with the repeating lead-in of, ‘a lot of clever cupboards’ as Puffin describes each home she has planned. Architectural ideas and terms are shown through small sketches next to the text, and words chosen such as ‘bracket, pulley operated, skylight, and rooftop decks.’ The text increases with each subsequent description, adding a new concept to all the previous recurring ones.

The architecture depicted is engaging and the illustrations provide plenty of detail for children to pore over. I did find the colour palette a little dark and subdued in places, and it would have been nice to have someone distinctly local amongst the global who’s who of animal home owners, but these are minor quibbles. As the pufflings reject home after home, it is clear that different creatures have very different needs, and the youngsters now have the language and understanding to explain what they hope their own dwelling will have. The end result is the right home for them.

It was refreshing to find that the working professional in this Puffin family is female and she is clearly very good at what she does, satisfying all her clients through careful listening and expert planning. I think older primary children will get the most out of this book and I can just see young readers imagining what they might include in their own future homes, just as I used to when reading Dr Suess’s Come Over to My Place as a child.