Philip Freelon, the architect of record for the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., began life as a little boy who had trouble reading.
His grandfather was a Harlem Renaissance painter, his parents were educated professionals, and his older siblings were able students, but Phil struggled. Before long, however, he discovered his love for math, science, and art, and while it took him a little longer to begin reading well, he eventually learned the joy of words, too. Lyons follows Phil from those early years through high school, where he learned he wanted to be an architect, and college at Hampton University (a historically black institution), where he learned about other black architects, to 2008, when Phil met with two other architects as they planned to enter a competition to design and build the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Freeman’s illustrations have an appropriately clean-lined look that complements the theme; her pages are populated by faces from black history as well as those of Phil and his family. Closing with an afterword by Freelon himself, this book will inspire children who have trouble reading, like Phil, and those who aspire to have careers as artists and architects.
Both an inspiration and an excellent companion for a trip to the museum its subject designed. (Picture book/biography. 5-10)