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I was happy this arrived on time, faster than expected. It came brand new just as it was stated. I find this to be a fun book to read whether you're a child or adult. The pictures are mixed media with collage work. It's not totally crazy that the main character, Roberto, is an insect who happens to be an architect. Some of the world's most architecturally gifted creatures are insects such as ants and termites. Overall, this book should be read by anyone who appreciates art and the insect world.
Another in the impressive Chronicle series of children's books, Roberto, the Insect Architect is the latest invention of author/artist Nina Laden, the fascinating tale of a wee mite ("termite, that is"), who grows up wanting to build things out of wood, not just feast on it, going against the grain of family obligations. Roberto aspires to make a name for himself, much like those he so admires, Hank Floyd Mite and Fleas van der Rohe, but he is discouraged when his parents complain that Roberto he has "bitten off more than he can chew" this time. Against all odds, Roberto sets out for the big city, where he draws inspiration for his designs from all manner of creepy crawlers.
Unfortunately, Robert's heroes, Hank Floyd Mite and Fleas van der Rohe, have no time to spare for an unknown architect, but Roberto remains undaunted, believing in himself. Soon he has designed a unique variety of dwellings, works of art that are also functional: the ladybug gets a fireproof home to keep her children safe, the carpenter ant a workshop for his projects, an abode for the house fly, even a habitable dwelling for the roaches. With perseverance and an inventive spirit, Roberto the Architect proves that anything is possible when there is determination and talent. Roberto achieves his goals and the world is better for it, all in a spirit of community. This clever story of creativity and inspiration, teaches a valuable lesson about believing in our dreams. Luan Gaines/2005.
Nina Laden, Roberto the Insect Architect (Chronicle, 2000)
There's something to be said for reading childrens' picture books every now and again. Childrens' authors can't get away with as much as adult authors can; for one thing, they generally have less room in which to get away with it (unless they are J. K. Rowling or Clive Barker, the vanguards of the burgeoning "childrens' doorstop" movement); for another, kids have an innate crap detector adults seem to get rid of as they get older. Reading chidlrens' books is a good way of grounding yourself, if you've gotten stuck in a rut of overly wordy stuff.
Roberto the Insect Architect is a fun one. (And note that a number of Amazon reviews of it have been posted by adults who own the book for themselves rather than their kids.) It's your basic "be yourself" kind of book, and reminds me in many ways of Randall Jarrell's brilliant The Bat-Poet. It's shorter, of course, being for a younger audience, and the points that are made are closer to the surface, but Laden still keeps things in hand by letting the story tell the story and giving visual cues that will make the reader of the intended age work (for example, Roberto's dream and its realization, which bookend the narrative in pictures instead of words). Worth reading for all ages. ****
A delightful story about a termite who overcomes all opposition to become a world renowned architect. The message that you can be anything you want to be is very obvious but the unusual characters and clever word play keep the book from sounding preachy. The illustrations are an integral part of this tale and greatly enhance the overall effect. My only reservation about this book is that while the length and format are ideal for younger children, many of the plays on words that make the story so enjoyable will only be understood by an older audience.