Puffin the Architect

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Kimberly Andrews, Puffin the Architect, Penguin Books Australia, July 2018, 32pp, RRP $24.99 (Hbk), ISBN 9780143793755

Puffin the architect knows how to exceed clients’ expectations — except when the clients are her pufflings!

Tasked with designing their new abode, Puffin shows them a range of homes for different animals, each plan gloriously functional but swiftly rejected by her fussy pufflings. Poised to quit from frustration, Puffin finally listens to their unique needs and comes up with a grand solution for the family home.

There is much to like about this large-format book: the depth and richness of the illustrations, especially the intricate double-spreads; the working female head of household, the spotlight on architecture as a profession; the cumulative text; the cleverly built spaces that the many animals call home; and the important message that listening can lead to understanding.

This is not an easy book to devour in one sitting; in fact, its layered action and detailed illustrations almost demand revisiting, with young readers undoubtedly finding something new on each occasion. The muted palette is appealing, yet I wonder if it’s vibrant enough to hold the attention of younger readers. The layered text (narrative, conversational between characters, and the rhyming design summaries), is both playful and ambitious yet at times seemed to compete with the intricate illustrations, though this certainly wouldn’t be an issue for older readers.

Puffin the Architect is an impressive debut from talented author-illustrator. Ideas for how to use the book in the classroom can be found here.

Reviewed by Maura Pierlot

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