Young Frank, Architect

illus. by author. 40p. websites. Museum of Modern Art. Sept. 2013. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-87070-893-0. LC 2013935903.
K-Gr 2—What is the relationship between creativity, art, and design? In exploring a question not often asked in children's picture books, Viva takes on an interesting challenge. Young Frank lives with his grandfather, Old Frank. They look almost exactly alike, with little hair and large black-rimmed glasses, and they are both architects. Young Frank likes to make things from any available materials. His toilet-paper-roll chair and wiggly book skyscraper, however, are dismissed by Old Frank, who takes his grandson to the museum to see the work of "REAL" architects. Readers who think architects build only structures may be confused by the lack of explicit explanation that they can be visionary artists, creating a range of objects. At the Museum of Modern Art, the Franks view Charlotte Perriand's Revolving Armchair and Arthur Young's Bell-47D1 Helicopter, among other exhibits. They are so excited by what they see that when they return home, they execute their own designs and put together an amazing city. While this ode to creativity is inspiring, the story elements do not fit together well. Young Frank and Old Frank, along with their long-suffering dog, Eddie, make a humorous family unit, but the older man's character is confusing: he seems to dismiss the more creative aspects of being an architect. He appears surprised by what he sees at MoMA, yet his apartment is filled with furnishings that reflect classical modern design. Viva's flat, minimalist illustrations suit the subject well. As an introduction to the museum's architecture and design collection, the book has value. As a stand-alone story, however, its pieces do not form a cohesive whole.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

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