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Building Our House

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,014 ratings  ·  181 reviews
In this unique construction book for kids who love tools and trucks, readers join a girl and her family as they pack up their old house in town and set out to build a new one in the country. Mom and Dad are going to make the new house themselves, from the ground up. From empty lot to finished home, every stage of their year-and-a-half-long building project is here. And at ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Farrar Straus Giroux
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,470)
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Jim Erekson
I would call this informational biography. The story is drawn from Bean's life, although his narrator is the unnamed little girl. Heavy nostalgia permeates the entire telling, making building your own home with no other place to live seem like the most idyllic thing any family could do. It draws on a tradition of this theme that reaches out to the Little House books, Walden, and others. The cartoon outlines give the book a graphic novel feel, or Virginia Lee Burton.

Bean controls the pacing by b
The subject matter does nothing for me (other than, as an adult, stress me out a little) but I appreciated the charming details in the illustrations. Being told from a child's perspective, it seems like one big adventure and I could do with a little more of their pioneering spirit! The Author's Note is not to be missed - it's very touching.
Ziwei Cheng
Long time ago, there had been a family which bought an old field to build the house there. They asked their family relatives for help. A lot of family members came to help, and they totally built this house by themselves. They built this house in different seasons, no matter what worst weather they had been through, the family members never gave up building their house.

This is actually a true story happening in life. The author is the little boy there. The whole book uses a comic style to demo
Alex Baugh
You know how kids can watch workers on a construction site long periods of time? Well, Jonathan Bean has written a book that should appeal to these construction site kids. Loosly based on the recollections of the house built by the author's parents when he was a child, the story takes the reader through building a house step by step through the eyes of the young girl who is going to live there.

It is a house built from scratch, in the middle of a field. The family, Mom, Dad, big sister/narrator,
This unique children's book outlines the process of building a house. The family is intimately involved in every process, from the design to construction.

House building is entirely foreign to me, a lifelong city dweller who comes from a family of not so handy people, so this story was fascinating in its depiction of construction from scratch.

This would be an excellent book for young people interested in architecture and construction, or for those who want to know where their house came from.
Technically this is a picture storybook, but I'm putting it on my nonfiction shelf because it has tons of interesting information. A kid describes each step as his family builds a house, from laying pipes to bring the water to digging out the basement and pouring the foundation to notching the lumber so the boards fit tightly. Love seeing both mom and dad working with tools.

I'm not sure how many houses are built by family and friends in a frame-raising party, but the process of how to build a ho
Sarah Foote
Every page is different and has a purpose. Some pages or even two together illustrate one message, such as the first illustrating the leaving of the city and moving to the country. Other pages however have three or more different illustrations to depict different tasks when building a house. The text gives detail to whom the characters are, who is telling the story and the actions difficult to interpret from picture alone, such as the father planning the corners of the house off the location of ...more
Heather Langendorff
Building Our House, by Jonathon Bean, is a story about a family who picks up and moves from the city into the country. The family works really hard together to build a new home that will be comfortable for all members of the house. The wheat field that mom and dad bought from a farmer is a big emphasis on the illustrations because it is where the house is being built and I think the author wants the reader to know its importance. The family is of great significance to this story. The little girl ...more
A lovely mix of the practical details ("The concrete and rock will shape the foundation that will support the frame and make for a solid house.") true for all building projects, along with the lyrical ("One wall will face north to ward off the wind, one east to welcome the morning...") that make this into one particular family's story.

The Author's Note and family photos are not to be missed.
Jennifer Miera
I really like this book because this would also be my dream - to move to the country and build our own house. The illustrations are charming (check each page for the white cat)and detailed. I also love that it's based on the author's family and shows real photographs of his family during their home-building experience. My 5-year-old is really digging this book.
Daniel Middleton
This book brings back fond memories of when we built our own house (though not with our own hands of course). The story starts out with the family leaving the big city and staking out a claim in the country to start a brand new life, a journey exactly like that of my own family. Building Our House, while never preachy, will help children to begin to establish a sense of what true value is, and beyond that, they will learn what it takes to construct a house from start to finish!

The artwork is dec
Rereading this for Thom's picture book illustration class makes me love it even more. I love the large format of the book and small format of many of the sections of pages; the evolution of the house and the narrator, and the mother's pregnancy. What isn't to love about this brilliant, wonderful story?
“One wall will face north to ward off the wind, one east to welcome the morning, one south to soak in the sun, and one west to see out the day.”

Based on a true story and told through the eyes of a young girl, the reader follows a family as they decide to leave the city and build a home of their very own in the country.

As the story is told and the season’s change, the reader can see exactly what is involved in building a home and how with the help of family and friends - a little girl, her broth
Kathy Ellen Davis
Loved this book!
Maybe because my Dad's a carpenter?
Maybe because it's the whole life cycle of building a house?
Maybe it doesn't matter.

I just love it!

Haiku Review:

My family arrives
with plans, and hands to do work.
This will be our home.
Dorothy Carder
This book is great for telling the timeline with words and illustrations of how a house is built. This would be a good book to read to a child whose home is being built or for one who likes to build things themselves. It shows the evolution and timeline involved in building a house and also of a family, as the pictures progress to show the mother in the story being pregnant and then holding a newborn baby in her arms towards the end. The book seemed to hold some factual knowledge of how to build ...more
Anne-thomas Donnelly
The book Building Our House by Jonathan Bean was sweet book about a family moving and building a new house together. It narrated by the youngest girl in the family who tells us everyone in the family's role while building their new home. Not only do the words on the page tell us this story, the illustrations throughout the book really help us get a picture of who everyone is and what all is going on. The illustrations cover the page with great colors and life like people. I loved how in each pag ...more
Bambini Travel
Inspired by an amazing true story, Building Our House is the story of a family that buys a piece of land and slowly builds their own house. Step by step the reader is walked through what it takes to build a house. The tools, the foundation, the insides, and most importantly the time. An afterward shares Jonathan Bean's story that he remembers primarily through photographs taken during the five years it took his parents to build their home. He tells the story through the eyes of his oldest sister ...more
This picture book is based upon the author's actual experience of growing up in a family building their own house. The detailed story outlines everything including moving away from the city to digging the basement to putting up the frame to painting the walls and moving their furniture. Even the laying of pipe and and wires to the house are noted. I read this book to several groups of first, second, and third graders. They all loved it. The illustrations provided several little details to watch, ...more
R. C.
This book is a fantastic overview for preschoolers of the steps of building one's home from scratch by hand. There's a sweet surprise and sub-story to look out for in the illustrations, too. I liked it even better when I turned to the last page and saw photos of the author's childhood. It's a true story! My eight-year-old desperately wants to move to the woods and build his own home, and this book was a great starting point for him as he began to sort out how one goes about doing such a big task ...more
A family of 4 is moving from the city to the country, where they will have to build their house. They live in a trailer until their house is finished, and their father still goes to his job in the city during the week, and can only work on the house on the weekends. This book shows all the steps to building a house from foundation up and what hard work it truly is. The book shows how the crew measures the beams, and how the blueprints guide the way to making the inside of a house. This is a very ...more
Ann Haefele
This picture book will appeal to all those interested in construction, construction trucks, and tools, and also to those who love great family stories. The author creates a story told through the eyes of a young girl about a family moving from the city to the country to build their own house. This is based on the memories of the author whose family actually did this over five years. This family all helps by gathering lumber from the sawmill, collecting piles of rocks, and bringing loads of sand ...more
Oak Lawn Public Library - Youth Services
Lexile Level: AD820L
Pages: 44

Summary: Family leaves the city to move to the country where they stay in a trailer while their house is being built. The family helps build the new home too.

Recommendations or Comments: This book seemed dated to me. The style and look was 1970ish. If it had a modern feel to it I think more kids would be inspired to follow in the author’s footsteps instead of learning about the experience that happened a long time ago. Personally I think this would be a great endeavo
Marathon County Public Library MCPL
This cozy picture book shows the year-and-a-half long construction process involved in building a house, from moving into a trailer to live until the house is done, picking out the site, consulting the blueprints, digging the basement, raising the frame, and working in all types of weather. Mom and Dad both work on the house while the children play and “help”. This is a realistic picture of how much work and planning it takes to construct a house. Illustrations are realistic, sweet and cozy and ...more
Jessica Moden
Reading Level: 2nd Grade
This book is about the process of a family building their new house; the illustrations are able to give more to the story line than the content itself. The illustrations show the progress of the house, along with the growing population of the family. There is a cat incorporated in the story on every page and towards the end she has kittens, just as the mother, who gets pregnant and has a baby. Nowhere in the text did it mention the kittens or baby being born. This book e
Catherine Nichols
Making a house from scratch isn't an easy task, as this delightfully detailed picture book shows. A young girl narrates the process, starting on the day she and her parents and baby brother move from their old house in the city to the country. For the next year and a half the family pulls together to build their new home, living in a trailer set under a large oak tree in a big, weedy field.

The text outlines the grueling work involved, while the illustrations highlight the adventures. One of the
Review posted on

A girl’s family leaves the city for a spot in the country, where they live in a small trailer while mom and dad build a timber frame house from scratch. The narrative and illustrations go step-by-step through the process of building the house, from setting the corners of the foundation by starlight, to framing, wiring, and finally moving in.

This is a simple and enveloping narrative that is notable for showing young people
Told through the eyes of a young girl, this picture book chronicles her family’s move from the city to the country. There in a bare field, they are going to build their own home. The family works for a year and a half on their house, living in a very cozy trailer while they complete enough of the house to live in it. Slowly the house takes shape from pegging out the corners to digging out the foundation to the incredible use of hand tools to work on the lumber for the frame. Through it all, the ...more
Words and pictures work together to tell the story of how a family ("a strong crew of four") build their house. Based on the true story of how the author/illustrator's family did build their house . . . over a period of 5 years with very young children (amazing!)

This is an excellent picture book in the true sense of words and pictures working together. The text is matter of fact, yet with touches of humor (as above) and even poetic moments:

"One wall will face north to ward off the wind, one east
A somewhat unique story (in our day, anyway) of a family building a house, based on the author's memories of his parents building a home when he was a small child. As I was reading for the first time, I kept wondering when the story was set -- the time period seemed more current, but to stake out a homestead and build a house "on your own" is not exactly common. Strong sense of family -- everybody pitches in, even the kids. I appreciated the author's note at the end with photos that explained th ...more
"He teaches all day, pounds on the house all night, and his wife still gets pregnant!"
This observation was made about one of our friends, Stan, who is now gone from this world. This book reminded me of Stan!
It also brought back good memories of 2 houses we built when our kids were 3 and 8, and again when they were 5 and 10.
There are lots of little stories going on in the drawings that aren't in the narrative. I found myself silently adding story lines as I enjoyed looking at the pictures.
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