Andrew Daddo (text), Stephen Michael King (illus.), Whatcha Building?, ABC Books/HarperCollins, 1 June 2017, 32pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9780733334153
This book highlights the importance of communities and how they can change over time. While the future of communities is influenced by changes and advancement, it’s important that we appreciate the past and preserve or recognise that history. The relationship between characters Davey Durak and Big Bruce the Builder represent that important connection between the past and present.
I loved the subtle Aussie references; whether that is the regularity of Melbourne rain or the use of Aussie slang and traits. I also loved the imaginative use of recycled materials in the illustrations, reflecting the preservation of community. This creative use of materials and techniques connects with and enhances the story and its message; as Davey collects wood from the old milk bar which Big Bruce works on upgrading, to create something new for the community.
It’s important for young children to have opportunities to discuss and explore recycling and upcycling. Ultimately, we are the caretakers of our earth and the advancement of society and community highly impact the world in which we live. This book provides avenues for conversation and reflection, and encourages children to respect their community and maintain its history.
Reviewed by Raquel Mayman