Many North American children have a difficult time visualizing places or houses different than their own; this survey will help somewhat.
The dwelling places pictured here will enlarge their knowledge base to some extent, but due to the limited representations (only 15 types of housing), readers will still need additional sources to understand shelter in a fuller geographic or historic context. Laroche’s engagingly intricate, bas-relief collages provide a sense of the environments and the people living in the houses. A range from a “dogtrot log house” (mid-Atlantic or southern U.S. in the 18th and 19th centuries) with two living spaces connected by a long roof and walk-through space to a 1986 Dutch high tech” green” floating house that can turn on its own platform. Other houses include a Venetian palazzo (confusingly, the author says… “the floor of the bottom story is water!”) and a Fujian tulou, a round, “rammed earth” structure (the one depicted was built in China in 1912). The text includes house type, materials, location, date and a (sometimes) “fascinating fact.” On a sexist note, the last spread teams to show three boys working on a treehouse. Overall weaknesses involve too much emphasis on European and U.S. examples and a map that links the styles to their geographic areas without marked political boundaries.
Best used to encourage children to create their own collages or three-dimensional models, this misses the mark as a strong introduction to domestic architecture. (selected sources) (Informational picture book. 6-9)