Carmen and the House That Gaudí Built

Owlkids. Mar. 2021. 32p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781771473927.
K-Gr 2–A fictionalized account of architect Antoni Gaudí’s relationship with the Batllós’ youngest daughter based on a real and famous house that he renovated for her family in 1900s Barcelona. Carmen does not want to move to the “gray, straight, stiff city” leaving her wild woods and Dragon, her imaginary salamander friend, behind. As she repeatedly tags along with her father and Gaudí to the new house and through a walk in the park, she realizes this won’t be any ordinary city house. Using nature as his guide, Gaudí eschews straight lines, embraces abundant natural light, and brings color to it all. Gaudí even seems to know all about Dragon, setting up a surprise for Carmen when she finally moves in. The text successfully combines Carmen’s anxiety with information about Gaudí to create a solid, relatable story. Ferrer’s illustrations use a limited color palette, including blues, greens, pink, browns, and black in lovely spreads that fully encompass Gaudí’s and Carmen’s love and respect for nature. Details such as attire, vehicles, and writing implements gently place the story in time while the characters’ thoughts and emotions render it timeless. All human characters are depicted with pale skin tones. Hughes provides an interesting author’s note about Gaudí with a picture of the exterior front of the real Casa Batlló, and a select bibliography.
VERDICT This fictional look at the creation of an artistic landmark works as a solid introduction to Gaudí and to the influence of nature on his work.

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