Building on Nature: The Life of Antoni Gaudi

Building on Nature: The Life of Antoni Gaudi

by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez, Julie Paschkis
     
 

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

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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.

Editorial Reviews

starred review Booklist
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.
San Francisco Chronicle
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.
BCCB
Rodriguez writes with a lyrical vitality…that suits her subject's radiant, innovative constructions.
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:
09/01/2009
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
543,056
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
AD550L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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