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Building on Nature: The Life of Antoni Gaudi

Overview

In a small village in Spain

lives a boy named Antoni Gaudí.

 

His home is in Catalonia, a place of jagged mountain peaks and silvery olive trees, splashed by the sparkling sea. The wild beauty of this landscape makes a deep impression. He thinks of it as the Great Book of Nature, and he will read from it all of his life.

Gaudí becomes an architect, learning the rules of ...

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Overview

In a small village in Spain

lives a boy named Antoni Gaudí.

 

His home is in Catalonia, a place of jagged mountain peaks and silvery olive trees, splashed by the sparkling sea. The wild beauty of this landscape makes a deep impression. He thinks of it as the Great Book of Nature, and he will read from it all of his life.

Gaudí becomes an architect, learning the rules of form and structure that buildings are supposed to follow. But the shapes and colors of the natural world still inspire him, and he works them into his buildings. Leaves climb up walls. Pillars are giant animal feet. A long bench snakes around a playground.

Antoni Gaudí turned nature into art, and in the process he revolutionized the world of architecture.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Building on Nature:

 

“An enchanting introduction.”—Publishers Weekly

 

“On one level, the result is a book that uses the artist’s timeless works to construct a sprawling but coherent illustration of the creative process. On another, it is simply pure joy to look at.”–Booklist, starred review

 

“There’s plenty here to have young aesthetes hankering for a plane ticket to Spain.”—Kirkus Reviews

 

“An accessible introduction to a man who was inspired by the natural world to create some highly original buildings.”School Library Journal

 

“How wild and wonderful imaginings are realized in architecture is the subject of Building on Nature: The Life of Antoni Gaudí, written by San Francisco author Rachel Rodríguez and illustrated by Julie Paschkis (Holt; 32 pages; $16.99; ages 5-8). Curvy structures such as the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona ‘sparkle and glitter and whisper with joy,’ according to this charming portrait of their Catalonian designer.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Rodriguez writes with a lyrical vitality…that suits her subject’s radiant, innovative constructions.”—BCCB

Publishers Weekly
The team behind Through Georgia’s Eyes pays homage to another singular artist. Often framed by art nouveau embellishments, striking visuals in warm browns and greens show off Gaudí’s work—his organic architectural designs, fantastical ornamental pieces and shapely mosaic structures. Rodríguez’s gently poetic text follows Gaudí’s growth from a boy who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis as he observed his Catalonian world (“All around him is light, form, and/ the Great Book of Nature./ He will read from it all his life”), through his evolution as an increasingly bold artist. An enchanting introduction. Ages 5–8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Margaret Orto
In a simple and poetic text Rachel Rodriguez tells the life story of visionary architect Antoni Gaudi, quietly building on the idea that the influences of Gaudi's childhood shaped his future endeavors. In particular, Gaudi was greatly influenced by nature. Since he was a sickly boy who could not always run and play like other children, he spent a great deal of time observing the natural beauty surrounding him in his native Catalonia, Spain, a land of rugged mountains, olive trees, and sparkling sea. He would use his knowledge later to incorporate fantastical animal and plant motifs in his creative buildings. Soon after studying architecture in Barcelona, Gaudi began receiving notable commissions. Many of his most famous projects are described and depicted in the book including Vicens House, the Holy Family Church, Casa Mila, and Park Guell. From the start Gaudi's buildings were noted for their striking originality, and his use of natural motifs and bright colors. As time goes on his creations get bolder and more daring. Julie Paschkis' art nouveau-style drawings swirl and curve on the page just as Gaudi's creations did. Her whimsical depictions of Gaudi's buildings and architectural details capture the serious yet imaginative beauty of Gaudi's works as well as complement Rodriguez's spare, direct, and evocative prose. An author's note at the back of the book provides important dates in Gaudi's life, as well as expanding on some of the information and ideas noted in the text. Websites and a selected bibliography are also included. This tightly written and beautifully illustrated biography comes from the same team who did Through Georgia's Eyes, a biography of Georgia O'Keefe.Reviewer: Margaret Orto
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Gaudí was born in Spain in 1852. He rejected the popular Gothic style and embraced the modern curves of Art Nouveau. Short sentences tell of the architect's boyhood in Catalonia, his love of nature, and his early influences and inspiration. Gouache illustrations playfully re-create Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, and other structures. "For Gaudí, building is serious./Everything must function./But he isn't afraid to use/his imagination." He incorporated nature inside and outside his creations. A list of Web sites direct readers to photographs of Gaudí's works. An accessible introduction to a man who was inspired by the natural world to create some highly original buildings.—Lisa Glasscock, Columbine Public Library, Littleton, CO
Kirkus Reviews
Swarms of visitors each year descend upon Catalan architect Antoni Gaud"s weird, wonderful church, La Sagrada Familia, under construction in Barcelona since 1883. Here, Rodr'guez highlights the daring architect's early love of nature and how that passion for organic forms was reflected throughout his career. The staccato, determinedly active-voice sentences range from clunky to lyrical, flowing best when describing architectural features: "At Casa Batll-, / a fireplace hides under a mushroom cap. / Hallways look like underwater caverns. / The house sparkles like the sea." Paschkis captures the crazy curves and elaborate detail of Gaud"s buildings-if not their context, scale and power-with her flat, folk-art-style gouache paintings and harvest palette, while graceful Art Nouveau borders harmoniously link art and text. Gaud"s engineering feats, such as the underground chapel Colonia Crypt, are confusingly presented, and referencing Gaud"s creations sometimes in Spanish, sometimes in English (La Sagrada Familia is named only as "Holy Family Church," for example) is a puzzling choice. Still, there's plenty here to have young aesthetes hankering for a plane ticket to Spain. (author's note, websites, selected bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805087451
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 1
  • Sales rank: 733,313
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD550L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

RACHEL RODRÍGUEZ is the author of Through Georgia’s Eyes. She lives in San Francisco, California.

JULIE PASCHKIS has illustrated many books for young readers, including Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: AWorldwide Cinderella. She lives in Seattle,Washington.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 7, 2009

    Lyrical and Inspiring

    Rachel Rodriguez has a wonderful ability to write lyrical descriptions of complicated buildings in language accessible to children yet enjoyable for adults. The illustrations enhance and illuminate the text. It's one of those books you hope that your child will pull down from the shelf and request before bedtime.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2009

    Story and art match that of Gaudi!

    For anyone who loves the art and architecture of Antoni Gaudi, this book captures both beautifully. Although written for children, I loved the story as much as my grandchildren. We also loved Rachel's book about Georgia O'Keefe. She has a wonderful way of capturing the essence of her subjects.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2009

    A Masterpiece!

    Building on Nature is a beautiful representation of the human spirit. With poetic language and rich illustration, Rodriguez and Paschkis weave together the inspirational life story of Antoni Gaudi, an artist unwilling to be anything but himself. This book is destined to be in every classroom! Congratulations to the author and illustrator on their exceptional work!

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  • Posted September 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Absolute quality!

    I adore the fact that Ms. Rodriguez continues to educate children on the incredibly talented artists of the past. First Goergia O'Keefe and now Antoni Gaudi. "Building On Nature" is beautifully written and illustrated. My boys and I stay on each page to savor the words and study the pictures. Absolute quality!

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  • Posted September 4, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Beautiful Book

    "With wide eyes, he observes the world. All around him is light, form, and the Great Book of Nature. He will read from it all his life." Isn't that a beautifully written passage? Rachel Rodriguez's spare but evocative language and Julie Paschkis's illustrations, which remind me of Tomie dePaola, complement each other wonderfully in this introduction to the world of Antoni Gaudi. It's a wonderful and simple story of a creative man who made his fantastical visions a reality, and challenged people's perceptions of what buildings could and should be. After reading the book, you'll want to travel to Spain to see his creations in person--at least that's the effect it had on me! This would be a great addition to a classroom library, or the personal library of art lovers young and old.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2009

    One of the best books on architecture for children -- EVER!

    There isn't a great deal of literature out there that that will inspire children about architecture, excepting maybe David Macaulay's books. But this a different kind of architecture book for children; it focuses on a single architect, his architecture, and the inspiration behind his architecture. It's visually rich, even for an adult, and the language is poetic. As an architect, and someone who has visited Gaudi's work in person, this book was a treat, and just the kind of book I would want a young person who might be leaning towards the arts, or maybe even architecture, to have. (And if they aren't leaning that way, it's probably even MORE important that they have this book!)

    It's hard to do this book justice in a verbal description, but I can see it becoming one of a child's personal treasures. You won't find a better present for a child.

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  • Posted September 3, 2009

    Natural Blend of Talent & Topic

    Rodriguez & Paschkis come together again (Through Georgia's Eyes was also brilliant) for another breath-taking blend of prose & pictures.
    Building on Nature brings the reader through the life & challenges of this gifted architect's life. It illustrates through word & illustration, the inspiration for Gaudi's work, difficulties he faced, and triumphs he had, perhaps even more so after his death, in shaping the world with his amazing work!

    Bravo, Rachel & Julie! Thanks for bringing another incredible human story so vividly to life!

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  • Posted September 3, 2009

    Bringing art to life

    It is rare for art to be brought to life on the printed page but the author and illustrator of this stunning book are able to do so in a very accessible and inviting way, not just for children but for teens and adults too. I love the contrast between the simple poetry of the narrative and the exuberant contours of the illustrations, which reflect the many sides of Gaudi's own personality. I don't see this as a children's book or an art book or an architecture book. It is more of a celebration of one extraordinary man's genius and his unique perspective on the world around him that should appeal to everyone of all ages and all levels. Congratulations!

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  • Posted September 2, 2009

    Shared Beauty

    With poetic text married to sparkling illustrations, this wonderful little book takes us along on the journey of Gaudi's life: a story of disabilities overcome, one man's artistic convictions and nature's beauty captured in architecture. Children will immediately identify with Gaudi's creativity and adults will be introduced to the creations of a beautiful mind. Well done!

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  • Posted September 2, 2009

    Building on Nature Creates Children's Life Lessons

    My daughter is eighteen now, but had this gorgeous book been published when she was young, I know it would have been one of her favorites. I read Ms. Rodriguez's first book, Through Georgia's Eyes as well as Building on Nature, and I am in love with her concept of introducing children to the great artists through a series of colorful and wise books. In both books, the artwork is gorgeous and magical, and Rachel's writing is spare and full of insight. What I love most, though, are the life lessons she gently offers up, like how important it is to be yourself; to trust that you are creative, too; and how important it is to notice the beauty in the world, whether it's made by humans or not. I can't recommend these books highly enough, for children as well as adults!

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  • Posted August 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A beautiful book for my daughter

    I just got my copy of Building On Nature and it is simply a gorgeous book. The illustrations are incredible and help tell the story of an incredible artist/architect. I am an architect and love that I can share my work with my daughter by telling her the story of Gaudi. This will help her gain an appreciation of art and architecture. I read it to her last night and she was enthralled by the images and asked to flip to the front to see it again. Its a wonderful, visually stimulating book.

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