The House Baba Built: An Artist's Childhood in China

by Ed Young

An autobiographical picture book offers an account of the artist’s childhood... read more

An autobiographical picture book offers an account of the artist’s childhood growing up in Shanghai during World War II. Knowing that war was pending, Young’s father (Baba), an engineer, sought the safest place to build a house, selecting the area of the city closest to the foreign embassies. Since he couldn’t afford to buy the land, he made a deal: the house would revert to the landowner in twenty years. The house Baba built was massive, with multiple floors, many rooms, courtyards, gardens, and even a skating rink on the roof. It was a child’s paradise for Young and his four siblings. But it was also a safe haven for their extended family, and others as well. The fascinating story is accompanied by amazing art: Richly textured illustrations use a stunning combination of drawing, painting, collage, and photographs, and include some fold-out pages to give a sense of roominess, especially when considered from the perspective of the child Young was. The book concludes with photos of the house today, a timeline, and, best of all, detailed floor plans of the dwelling. (Ages 7–14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2012

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