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Building Our House

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  2,052 ratings  ·  286 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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Average rating 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,052 ratings  ·  286 reviews

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Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great book! Watch how a family picks up and moves to the country to build a house themselves while living on site. Very educational and it's based on a true story of a family who did this. Nice illustrations as well.

Now I do not often give five star rankings, but Jonathan Bean's Building Our House has been a pure and utter reading and visual delight, a sweet (and indeed also true) story of how the author's parents bought a plot of land and then with their own hands (like in the so-called good old days) built their family home from bottom to top (mostly on their own, with both the father and the mother one hundred percent engaged in the building process, and with the father also still working at his nine to ...more
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the fictional story of a family moving out to the country to build their house. In the story, the father and mother, with the help of family and friends, build the house in a year and a half. In the Author's Notes, he states that the story is based on his sister's memories, and that the building of the house actually took five years to build. He has pictures of the house being built.

The detailed illustrations and text is great for children who like tools, trucks and building things. This
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This, the author notes, is a true story... except for one critical thing. In the book, it took an unbelievable year and a half. Irl it took a more realistic five years. I'd find it more inspiring if it were more realistic.

Then again, even five years really isn't long... I'm impressed.

Highly recommended to interested readers of any age, and to all children.

Edit! Jennifer says that this is realistic, in a significant way. See her comment here:
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We loved this book! It was wonderfully detailed, both the story and the illustrations. (I loved watching the little side-story with the stray cat who adopted them!) In addition to being a great look at the actual physical effort of house-building, is a book about home-building, a family full of warmth and optimism -- maybe the rose-colored glasses are on a bit firmly (the IRL five years would be a bit long, oh my!) but I think there's just something really special about the family all coming tog ...more
Jan 23, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Children Who Enjoy Learning How Things Are Built / Anyone Looking for Lovely Family Stories
Picture-book author/artist Jonathan Bean, who made his debut with the 2007 At Night , here turns to his own family history to tell the story of how their home was built. Told from the perspective of Bean's older sister, the narrative here follows the Bean family as they move into a trailer home on the land they have recently purchased, and begin making preparations to build their dream house. From laying the foundation to raising the frame, it's a process that requires a lot of hard work, but ...more
Alex  Baugh
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: randomly-reading
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,
Ziwei Cheng
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob)
Really wonderful. I love the illustrations, I love the flow of the text. It somehow manages to make something like tediously building a house a magical thing.

Highly recommend for small children.
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, monarch-award
I really enjoyed this book. I couldn't help but notice the mother cat had kittens while the house was being built.
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
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Marathon County Public Library
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
Jim Erekson
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rural, informational
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
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
Aug 29, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
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?
Kathy Ellen Davis
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
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.
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pbf-homes
Excellent story about a couple who build their own timber-frame home in the country. They do get occasional help from others, but do most of the work themselves. Bean's watercolor illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to the story. Would be a good choice for a story time about homes.
Katie Fitzgerald
Read at Builders and Diggers Preschool Story Time on 5/3/13: ...more
Jack & Lily Wills
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-read-4-7
This was a very fun read - lots of things going on that the kids were interested in, and lots of little details throughout. Very enjoyable!
Nov 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-book
This is a sweet book about a family moving to the countryside and building their own house over the course of time.
Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Not a construction family but a great book for the right kiddo.
Catherine Nichols
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
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
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
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
Joshua Whiting
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
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
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
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