Youthful irreverence and creativity find a champion in this tale of Iggy Peck, a child who once "built a great tower-in only an hour-/ with nothing but diapers and glue." At the sight (and smell) of this wonder, Iggy's mother memorably responds, "Good Gracious, Ignacious!" She supports his precocity, despite his preferred media. When Iggy arrives in second grade, however, his teacher forbids such follies, based on her childhood fear of skyscrapers. Her backstory suggests teachers' rules can be arbitrary, not to mention damaging to inventive students: "With no chance to build, his interest was killed," and Iggy droops disconsolately at his desk amid blank negative space. His ennui lasts until a fortuitous school picnic, when a rickety footbridge collapses (and so does the teacher); led by Iggy, the children construct a suspension bridge from "boots, tree roots and strings, fruit roll-ups and things/ (some of which one should not mention)," including undies. Beaty (When Giants Come to Play) favors sprightly stanzas, while Roberts (Mrs. Crump's Cat) drafts orderly watercolor images on, alternately, clean white paper and graph paper. The structured rhymes and controlled illustrations fit the architectural theme, and if the mannered poetry strains at times, Roberts breaks free of the stylization with absorbing details. Each of Iggy's 16 classmates, for example, has his or her own unique quality, implying the variety of personalities and potentials to be appreciated in any group of children. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Iggy Peck has been an architect "since he was two." He builds constantly, using everything from fruit to clay, pancakes to pie. Rollicking rhymes describe his incredible constructions until second grade. There his teacher, Miss Lila Greer, calls a halt to his buildings, because of her fear of them, so poor Iggy is bored, until the class takes a hike. The bridge to the island where they go to picnic collapses. Miss Greer screams and faints, but resourceful Iggy organizes the class to collect enough assorted items to build a new bridge. Miss Greer awakens to realize "there are worse things to do when you're in grade two than to spend your time building a dream." Constructions dominate the double pages, including a challenging cityscape reflecting Miss Greer's early misadventure, an intricate castle constructed of many pieces of chalk, and the triumphant fanciful shoestring bridge from the island. Roberts uses pen and ink and watercolors with sharp outlines and no texture for the complex constructions along with the many humorous characters active in the story.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2 As early as two years of age, Iggy determinedly builds structures from a variety of common items like pancakes and diapers, and his parents are amazed at his "unusual passion." In second grade, though, his teacher informs him that there is no room for architecture in her classroom. "That might seem severe, but she was sincere./For when she was no more than seven,/she'd had a great fright at a dizzying height/in a building so tall it scraped Heaven." School becomes a bore for Iggy, until the students go on a picnic and cross a trestle to a small island, only to have the trestle collapse. As the teacher faints, Iggy comes to the rescue. Using whatever he can find-boots, shoelaces, tree roots-he enlists his classmates to help him construct a suspension bridge. When Miss Greer recovers, she realizes the importance of building dreams. After that, second graders in Blue River Creek Elementary are taught every week about some of the world's greatest buildings by Iggy Peck, architect. The detailed pen-and-ink and watercolor spreads, evocative of architectural drawings, are crisp, clean, and expressive. Through cartoonlike characters set against white backgrounds or, on occasion, graph paper, they capture the emotion and action of this imaginative story.-Margaret R. Tassia, Millersville University, PA
A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts's faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication-as would Beaty's decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as "After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic." Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it's always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)