Friday, May 25, 2012

Book #146: Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts

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Iggy Peck has been an architect since the age of two when he built a leaning tower out of (dirty) diapers and glue. As he grew, so did his love for great architecture. But things changed when he got to 2nd grade. His teacher, Miss Lila Greer, once had a bad experience in a very tall building and after that day she “thought all building-lovers were nuts.” Poor Iggy was no longer allowed to create castles out of chalk in class. Then, Miss Greet took her class for a picnic on an island in the middle of a river. The class made it across the rickety old bridge, but then it collapsed, trapping Miss Greer and the children on the island. It’s a good thing Iggy Peck, architect, was there to save the day!

The illustrations have been painstakingly rendered by hand. The lines are straight and true as a ruler and Iggy’s various projects, from the pancake St. Louis Arch to the church made of apples, are whimsical and fun. Each round-headed character is unique and I especially love the variety of clothes and hairstyles. By using grey or white backgrounds, Roberts allows the color of Iggy’s creations and friends to pop to the forefront. The rhyming text of the book is witty and humorous. Throughout the book the text is manipulated to become part of the visual landscape. For instance, when the bridge falls apart, the words tumble down the page.

This book just begs to be followed up with some hands-on building activities. If you’ve got K-2 kids, check out Science Companion’s Building with Many Materials lesson plan. It was created for kindergarteners, but can easily be adapted for a slightly older crowd. If you have older elementary aged kids, try some Odyssey of the Mind challenges, such as Bridge It and Get Over It, Bridge Building Long and Tall, and the Tower of Pasta. I recommend splitting kids into groups of 4 or 5 for these activities.

If you get any packages in the mail, check to see if they were packed with biodegradable packing peanuts (Note: this activity won’t work with regular plastic peanuts). Dab a peanut in water and it’ll stick to another peanut or even a cardboard box. Spread a tarp or sheet on the floor for easy clean up. See who can build the tallest structure or try building a bridge from one table or chair to another.

Beaty provides a one-page teacher’s guide on her website that’s full of fun ideas and facts about architecture. Also check out the reader’s theatre script adapted by Toni Buzzeo. This is a wonderful script for elementary school aged kids who are new to reader’s theatre. The script is fairly short and the lines are pretty evenly divided.


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