Gr 4-8-This overview of American houses provides a cursory look at how soil, environment, economics, available materials, and personal taste have shaped regional styles. The second half of the book focuses on the architectural elements, with each style generally accorded a single page and one or two illustrations. The presentation concludes with suggestions for field exercises for readers to conduct in their own communities. Glenn's task is noble, but her execution falls flat. A history of architectural styles will generally appeal to youngsters who already have at least some interest in architecture and construction. Unfortunately, those students won't find this book very enlightening; those without background knowledge won't learn much either. Stites's cartoon illustrations are distracting and, in some cases, confusing as they parody true architectural renderings. Occasionally, characters are drawn specifically to offer witty and inane remarks about the buildings or their uses. The yellow and purple print used for headings is difficult to read and the variety of type styles and sizes for subheadings and captions is dizzying. Libraries will be better served by Diane Maddex's Architects Make Zigzags (Preservation, 1986).-Jeanette Larson, Texas State Library, Austin
Glenn's comprehensive introduction to American domestic architecture will help children see the houses around them for what they are. Leading off is a long, chatty essay in which Glenn considers a wide range of historical and practical elements influencing why houses look the way they do. Next comes a basic style guide identifying and describing more than 30 different styles of domestic architecture. The third part is a short field guide that teaches children how to look at the houses in their own neighborhood and determine their style; finally, there is a listing of the historic status, location, architect, and accessibility to the public of the more than 70 houses surveyed in the book. Throughout are colorful, cartoon-style renderings of all the houses discussed, with appropriate features labeled, as well as numerous amusing details and asides (a young Frank Lloyd Wright hogging the building blocks). A bibliography is included, but the book lacks a glossary and an index. For junior architects and kids curious about house design, Glenn's text should become a standard resource to be used after Isadore Seltzer's simpler introduction, "The House I Live In: At Home in America" (1992).