Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Arches to Zigzags: An Architecture ABC

Arches to Zigzags: An Architecture ABC

Michael J. Crosbie
Photographer: Steve Rosenthal and Kit Rosenthal
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
Abrams, 2000   ISBN: 978-0810942189

So what is architecture anyway? Well if you look the word up you will find a definition much like this one: “architecture is the art and science of designing buildings and structures.” In fact architecture is all around you whether you are at work, at school, or at home. Every building you see is a work of architecture and there are thousands of architectural elements that one can admire in buildings of all kinds. This alphabet book explores just a few of these elements and after just one reading children will be fascinated to discover that their home or school contains features that they now know the name of.

They will recognize a keystone and know what it is for. They will be able to identify an arch, a balcony, and a hinge. At a construction site they will see joists and will be able to tell anyone who is listening that a joist is not unlike the human skeleton.

For each architectural element the author has created a clever little rhyme. The rhymes engage the reader because each one ends with a question which begs to be answered. For example for the M is for mantel page the author asks: “What would you put there /Besides a glass kitty?” Young readers will enjoy the interactive nature of the book and the marvelous full color illustrations which show each element, and which also incidentally also show all kinds of buildings. At the back of the book the author includes a “What is architecture?” section which provides children with an explanation of what the word means. He also provides further information about each element and tells his readers where the elements were photographed. Many of the buildings in the photographs are historic and it is interesting to find out where they are.

This is an attractive and very informative book which will certainly tweak the interest of young readers.