An American master builder was inspired by basic geometry and the Midwestern prairie.
In boyhood, Frank Lloyd Wright was entranced by the land around him. To help him cope with frequent family moves that take him far from his beloved Wisconsin home, Wright’s mother gave him sets of wooden blocks; he loved the myriad ways he could arrange their shapes. Recognizing that the multicolored, European-style homes popular at the time didn’t meld with the landscape’s natural contours nor suit contemporary American lifestyles, the adult Wright envisioned “a new kind of house.” He opened his own firm and, using the plains’ own shapes and colors as templates, designed long, rectangular “Prairie Houses” that blended organically into their surroundings. The text is serviceable as it provides a simple blueprint of the life and career of this 20th-century visionary, but there is no glossary for the many architecture-related terms used. Wright quotes appear throughout. Readers will be interested in how Wright’s fascination with shapes and nature informed his work and should be encouraged to create their own “building designs.” Dynamic mixed-media illustrations are replete with shapes: Many pages emphasize verticals and horizontals; some feature “wood-grained” blocks; trees are drawn with rounded leaves and sticklike trunks. Characters default white. A spread in the backmatter includes photos of some of Wright’s most famous structures.
A competent introduction to a master whose ideas still influence today’s buildings. (author’s note, sources) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)