Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Architecture in Children's Fiction

My 8-year-old son loves buildings, especially if they are old.  This passion drew my attention to the prominence of interesting buildings in much of the children's fiction we've read together, and I started to keep this odd list.  In these books at least one building plays a  significant role in the plot:
  • Iggy Peck, Architect  by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts
  • Eloise [The Plaza!]
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder [maybe all the Little House books, now that I think about it]
  • Gone-Away Lake and Return to Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright
  • The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston
  • Betsy-Tacy; Betsy, Tacy, & Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace [Tib's chocolate-colored house]
  • Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald [Mrs. P-W's upside-down house]
  • Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren [Pippi's crazy house]
  • The Boxcar Children (#1) by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • The Giraffe, The Pelly, and Me by Roald Dahl
  • The Five Little Peppers by Margaret Sidney [the Little Brown House!]
  • Magic or Not, by Edward Eager
  • The Borrowers by Mary Norton
  • The Thyme Garden by Edward Eager
  • The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
  • The House of Arden by E. Nesbit
  • Wonderstruck by Brian Selznik [Museum of Natural History]
What are some other examples of children's fiction in which the plot revolves in some way around a building?

[I'm linking to The Children's Bookshelf]


Momand Kiddo said...

This is an interesting question. I remember reading a picture book by Lauren Child called "Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent" in which the title character has to save his parents' mansion. Also, Roxie Monro has a series of picture books called Inside-Outside in which she looks at various landmarks in Paris, London, etc. I don't know if they would be interesting enough for N., though.

Momand Kiddo said...

P.S. Thanks for linking up to TCB.

Fanny Harville said...

A couple examples that I haven't read with N. yet: From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler [Metropolitan Museum of Art]; The King in the Mirror by Adam Gopnik [Versailles].

Grown-up example: Pride and Prejudice! ["to be mistress of Pemberlyy might be something!"]

Melissa Wiley said...

LOVE this list and this topic. Here's one--JANE OF LANTERN HILL, the LMM book that ruined me for houses. I am forever yearning for a little house with 'lashings of magic.' Of course many (all?) of Montgomery's books feature houses as integral parts of character happiness--Green Gables, the House o' Dreams, Ingleside. All magical in their way. The little Muskoka cabin (not a children's book but still), the Toronto bungalow in JLH, New Moon...

Uncle Ambrose's House in Linnets & Valerians. Goudge is good with houses too. Nan's special sitting room--oh, how that thrilled me. And Ezra's kitchen.

Fanny Harville said...

How did I leave Green Gables (and House of Dreams, and Ingleside, and Miss Lavender's place) off this list in the first place? Yes, houses are so central in Montgomery's books, and so romantic! Jane of Lantern Hill is, I think, the only LMM book I haven't read AND I've never read any Goudge. I'll have to rectify these omissions immediately!

Fanny Harville said...

Of course, the country house novel (and film, and mini-series!) is a major British genre from Austen to the Moonstone and beyond... Now I'm thinking about whether that genre is relevant to children's fiction about buildings...

Fanny Harville said...

Mom & Kiddo -- I'm not familiar with either of the titles you mention but I'll check them out!

Bethany said...

So many favorites on this list! I love the really detailed illustrations in some of the older books. Thanks so much for linking up to The Children's Bookshelf.

Jackie@My Little Bookcase said...

I think the theme of this book list is FANTASTIC. Thanks for compiling it. I've featured it in my post today at My Little Bookcase.

Momand Kiddo said...

Last weekend I went to a kid lit conference and got a preview catalog from Chronicle Books. This book is coming out in Dec. and of course I thought of N. I didn't see inside but the age range tells me it's more than just a picture book. http://www.chroniclebooks.com/titles/kids-teens/by-age/advanced-12-14yrs/sky-high.htm