Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Xtraordinary Artists: Frank Lloyd Wright

Xtraordinary Artists: Frank Lloyd Wright

Jennifer Fandel
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 10 and up
The Creative Company, 2005   ISBN: 978-1583413784

From a very early age Frank Lloyd Wright was different. He was shy and liked to spend his spare time alone in his room reading and painting. He dressed in a rather eccentric fashion which made him stand out in a crowd. In an effort to toughen him up a little his parents sent him to work on his uncle’s farm not far from where the Wright’s lived in Wisconsin. Frank hated the farm work but he loved the countryside and he did learn one valuable lesson - that if one wanted something badly enough, hard work and “a strong will” would make it happen.

When he was in University Frank had his first “taste of architectural design work” and he showed so much promise that he had very little trouble getting a job with a big firm in Chicago in 1887. Frank was lucky that his employer saw his potential and made full use of him. By the time he was twenty-two Frank was the company’s chief designer and Frank was being given plenty of residential designs to do.

After only six years of working for someone else, Frank created his own firm. He was only twenty-six and it was at this point that he began designing his famous Prairie Style homes. In these homes Wright wanted the design to reflect how the house would be used and he wanted it to be integrated into its natural surroundings. Frank was very good at promoting his work and he was soon well known and well respected in Chicago.

His reputation went out the window in 1909 when he left his family and went to Europe to live with Mamah Cheney, the wife of one of his clients. The couple came back to America after many months away to find that Frank’s residential work opportunities had largely disappeared. Frank decided to concentrate his efforts on building Taliesin, his “artistic retreat” in the Wisconsin countryside. He also began to get commissions for commercial structures, the most impressive of which was the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan.

After the quieter years of the Great Depression, when he did a lot of teaching, lecturing, and writing, Frank went into an incredibly productive period in his life. In 1943 he was given the commission to build the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City and the building he created would be one of his most extraordinary and well received creations.

This superbly written and lavishly presented book will give young readers an excellent picture of what Frank Lloyd Wright was like, how he worked, and what his architectural philosophy was. With full color and black and white photographs throughout the book, and numerous quotes from people who knew Wright and his work, this title is a joy to look at as well as to read.

This is one of the titles in the “Xtraordinary Artists” series.