Young, Ed. The House Baba Built. Little Brown Company: New York, 2011. ISBN 9780316076289
Ed Young didn’t have a typical childhood. With his country, China, at war, the world seemed a dark place. But one thing stood true for Ed Young. Nothing bad could happen to him when he was in the house his father built. And because of his father, instead of his childhood being about planes, bombs, and soldier, it was filled with imagination and joy.
I thought this book was very well written and interesting to read. The pages fold out. They also include beautiful drawings of family and corresponding moments in the story. I love that his “baba” desired to keep his family safe and did so by using his skills as a carpenter and construction worker and imagination. Instead of being influenced by bombs and soldiers, they had a swimming pool and tennis courts and their imagination.
I was pulled into this book and was engaged the whole way through.
I did wish there was more about the war, and how the war was viewed from the point of the Chinese, but that’s also the point of the book, they weren’t as aware of it either, and they lived it.
There was surprisingly a very real lack of culture in this book.
From School Library Journal
“Young’s father builds a house for his growing family and for others who join them. Against the background of World War II, the author shares childhood memories of changing seasons, raising silkworms, and picnicking by the pool. This oversize book with foldout pages is illustrated with photos, drawings, and collage. Includes a time line and a diagram of the house.”
From Kirkus Review
“The episodic text rambles; some illustrations are casual and chaotic. Others are magnificent. Young uses myriad textures, including crinkly paper and woven reed paper. Collaged family silhouettes feature tenderly sketched faces. Old photos and bits of painted collage glow on dark pages. Miniscule cut-out people populate fold-out drawings and complex, three-dimensional–looking collages of the house. Those wanting historical or cultural background will need supplements, though.
Sophisticated, inventive art invites close viewings for patient readers in this unusual family story.”
From Publishers Weekly
“Young’s creation, shaped with help from author Libby Koponen, is as complex and labyrinthine as Baba’s house, with foldout pages that open to reveal drawings, photos, maps, and memories. Tender portraits of his siblings, torn-paper collages showing tiny figures at play, and old photos of stylish adults intermingle, as if they’d been found forgotten in a drawer. Young’s fans will savor stories of his East-West childhood; he and his four siblings raise silkworms, watch Westerns, train fighting crickets, and dance the conga when the war finally ends 14 years later. “Life,” Baba writes to his children, “is not rich not real unless you partake life with your fellow man”; Young set the course of his life by his father’s words. It’s history at its most personal.”
Books by Ed Young:
My Mei Mei ISBN 978-0399243394
The Lost Horse ISBN 978-0152050238
The Sons of the Dragon King ISBN 978-0689851841
Shanghai Messenger by Andrea Cheng ISBN 978-1620142301
The Emperor and the Kite by Jane Yolen ISBN 978-0698116443
The Empty Pot by Demi ISBN 978-0805049008
How can we find happiness when things are bad?