Sunday, 27 October 2019

Puffin the Architect

A belated acknowledgement of a future classic:

Puffin the Architect (2018)

 Kimberly Andrews

Puffin, pb, 32pp

ISBN   978 0 14 377218 7

This award-winning picture book, Puffin the Architect, uses a family of puffins to show the role architects may play in creating a home that is good to live in. The story – told in verse – begins as Puffin introduces herself as a designer of a range of homes ‘from cottages and bungalows to mountain huts and domes.’

Now she has the tricky task of designing a home for herself and her two pufflings.

My toughest clients ever!

She shows her offspring some of the homes she has designed. Her clients include a platypus, a bloodhound, a moose and a giraffe. The goose, a painter, has a studio with folding furniture and a tunnel for drying art work. Pig has a mobile tool-shed on wheels with a pulley-operated bed. The otter family home has a boat with ‘lots of clever cupboards full of fish hooks and life jackets.

Puffin’s problem is that her offspring don’t like the other animals’ homes. Every example, no matter how original, is rejected.  The young pufflings explain that they are not hounds or pigs or moose.

Can’t you make a puffin cottage?’ they ask.

As it turns out, Puffin can. Listing everything puffins need – such as a pulley-operated fish-drying rack – she quickly designs the perfect puffin home. The concluding page shows the Puffin family in residence, with all their animal friends enjoying a dinner party in Puffin Cottage.

The text reads well, with simple rhymes and a good rhythm, while the comments from the pufflings appear in speech balloons.

The pictures are amazing. Each building has its own double page spread showing a cross-section, with the occupants enjoying their home’s special features. Each picture has inset a project design sketch (by Puffin Design) showing a plan of the home or a diagram of a feature.

Even the endpapers are full of amusing details about the (fantasy) home life of puffins.

This is a book where the pictures and text both reward careful scrutiny of the details

Trevor Agnew 

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