A colorful, informative, and Eurocentric crash course in world architecture for young readers.
This well-illustrated work of nonfiction does a solid job of providing basic architectural knowledge for young readers, but its limited survey of examples undercuts its utility. The Egyptian pyramids, the Parthenon, Rome (“the birth of town planning”) and the Pantheon, and a single page on Byzantine architecture represent early examples. Other non-European architectural landmarks featured include the Imam Khomeini Mosque in Isfahan, Iran; a Moroccan Berber village; and Japanese architecture, represented by a typical house and the Katsura Imperial Villa. A spread on domestic architecture offers pictures of homes in Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, the U.K., the American Great Plains, Oman, China, Brazil, Malaysia, Cameroon, and more, but no context is provided. Of architects profiled, only Zaha Hadid is not a white, European man; a paragraph on female architects states that historically, “they did not receive the credit they deserved,” then goes on to prove the point by cramming 15 further names into three sentences. Latin America and Australia are almost completely ignored. It is notable that illustrated builders, architects, and engineers are largely pale-skinned, though one of book's child guides is a girl of color, and there is a woman of color in a picture of a modern architecture firm. That this nonfiction book provides more details on an imagined Martian outpost than on both sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America is downright depressing.
Looks good but does nothing new. (Nonfiction. 8-12)