Young, Ed. 2011. THE HOUSE BABA BUILT: AN ARTIST’S CHILDHOOD IN CHINA. New York: Little Brown. ISBN 9780316076289 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-7)
At the center of Caldecott medalist Ed Young’s memoir of his childhood in war-torn China is the sturdy, multi-level house that his engineer father constructed for his family. Young opens the doors of his memory and leads the reader on a meandering journey through his childhood, with the house as a metaphor for safety, security, and love. He introduces his family, nuclear and extended, and family friends who all sought refuge in the house. With an emphasis on relationships rather than artistic development, Young creates a world of childhood wonder and exploration, sharing a very personal story of family strength and endurance.
Artist Young incorporates photographs with original artwork, creating multimedia collages that are both personal and iconic. Each page presents a little visual puzzle which the reader must study for details that illuminate the text. Young uses fold-out pages to great advantage, expanding the story of a house that also grows as the years progress. Young told his story to author Libby Koponen who then helped form the artist’s memories into a personal and engaging text. As multi-faceted as Baba’s house itself, the book presents a journey to another place and time, inviting the reader to share the memory of the artist’s world.
Introduce the concept of “collage,” using THE HOUSE BABA BUILT to illustrate this medium. Then using photographs, drawings, and other memorabilia, have readers create their own autobiographical scrapbooks.
Other autobiographical books by artists:
Say, Allen. DRAWING FROM MEMORY. ISBN 978-0-545-17686-6
Sis, Peter. THE WALL: GROWING UP BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN.
Arnosky, Jim. WHOLE DAYS OUTDOORS; AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL ALBUM.
By Susi Parks Grissom