Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Building Boy” as Want to Read:
The Building Boy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Building Boy

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  162 ratings  ·  38 reviews
All at once, it was as if the stars leapt closer.
Grandma grabbed the boy, raising him high above the rooftiles on her head.
She was alive!

The boy's grandma was a famous architect. Her garden is still full of old building materials. Unwilling to accept she has gone, the boy builds a giant structure from the bricks and girders he finds. And then ... Grandma comes to life! The
Paperback, 32 pages
Published September 1st 2016 by Faber & Faber (first published August 2016)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Building Boy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Building Boy

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  162 ratings  ·  38 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Building Boy
Sep 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Although I liked this book, I think that the message might be a little complex for kids in the target age range. It is a story of a boy losing his grandma, and finding a way of coping with his pain honoring his grandma and her legacy.Vivid illustrations.

I received this copy in an Early Reviewers Giveaway in LibraryThing.
Linda Lipko
Sent to me as an early review book, I was excited to receive this one! As someone who had a wonderful relationship with my grandmother, this book automatically brought endearment.

A boy who loves his grandmother who reads books to him and who previously won many awards for her architectural abilities, she promises to built a special house for him. Alas, she passes away, leaving the boy heartbroken. Picking up a hammer and nails he designs and builds a model of his grandmother. There is a very sw
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
It is such a difficult and delicate challenge to write about loss and grieving in a book for very young children without either scaring or deeply upsetting them. Ross Montgomery balances it beautifully, though, in this gorgeous, dreamy, fantastical story about a boy who loves his grandma (a famous architect, now retired) very much – and who finds a way, through their shared love of building, to keep her memory with him forever. It’s lyrical and emotional and deeply uplifting, and my 4-year-old h ...more
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This book came as a wonderful, magical, tender surprise.
Chance Lee
Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-it
A sad book in which a young boy's grandmother dies so he builds a robot version of her. Beautiful illustrations. Poignant story. The end is a little too philosophical/symbolic, even for me.
Ellie Labbett
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Montgomery's story reveals how strongly the feelings of belonging and homeliness are tied with who is inside the home and the memories that we share within it. When a little boy's grandmother dies his sense of home passes with her and his home becomes alien. A feeling that may be too familiar to children and should be discussed sensitively.
As a way of coping with this grief, the little boy tries to rebuild his grandmother, who take him on a journey of self acceptance, guiding him to realise tha
Eloise Battey
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bereavement
I feel that the messages in this book may be a little tricky to unpick for children, unless discussed in class and talked about with an adult. However, the message is lovely. 'The Boy' loses his grandma and realises that for his next house to be a home, his grandma must be part of it. It shows how the ones you have loved and lost can live on in your heart and be brought with you on your adventures in life simply through your memory.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-book
A sophisticated picture book about a boy who fulfills his architect grandma's dreams, via magical realism and imagination, told with intriguing illustrations and lively, rich language.
Bruce Gargoyle
I received a copy of this title from Allen & Unwin for review.

A Top Book of 2016 pick!

Ten Second Synopsis:
A boy decides to finish his grandmother's dream of building a big house for the two of them, but finds some unexpected help along the way.

I'm not sure if it's something to do with the soft, moonlit scenery, but The Building Boy certainly cast its gentle and inspiring ambience over this stony reader. The industrious and colourful endpapers depicting engineering and design drawings give the fi
Michael Earp
Oct 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sad and sweet and wonderfully illustrated!
This book is a bittersweet masterpiece. When it was first released last year I bought it without hesitation. I had flicked through it but not actually read the story before buying it. I bought it solely based on the illustrations by the AMAZING illustrator David Litchfield who is, without doubt, one of my favourites!
When I got it home and read it my heart was shattered into a million pieces and then put back together again. This was released only a little while after I lost my grandma and from
Melanie Coombes
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was so beautifully illustrated. It is stunning! The story is about a young boy that clearly loves his grandmother. They sit and read together and she talks about her job as an important architect. But the grandmother gets older and then one day she is "gone."
The boy has a dream about creating an amazing building that would continue his grandmother's legacy. I also agree with some of the other reviews, that this concept would be very difficult for younger readers to understand. However
5/5 *****
This book...

Bring out the tissues. *You've been warned* This hit close to home as I lost my Dad when I was eight, and we lost my son's paternal grandmother (my mother-in-law and BFF) when he was one. So reading it to him was an emotional experience, but still brought a smile to my face in the end.

The illustrations alone are enough to warrant purchase. Absolutely stunning. And the endearing message that you rebuild and heal after loss by remembering your favorite "pieces" of your loved o
Hannah Higson
Jan 31, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is about a boy who's grandmother builds half a house for him before she dies. Unfortunately she never manages to finish building the house. The boy misses his grandma so he decides to build her. The 'DIY' grandma comes to life and takes the boy through water and across a city to the half finished house. The boy asks grandma how he is supposed to live in a half built house and she tells him he has already built it. The grandma slots into the finished gaps to create the house. The last p ...more
Raegan   Ralls
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: children, those hoping to cope with grief
-Disclaimer: I won this book for free through goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review.-

What an exceptionally sweet & heartwarming book!

If I saw this book in a store I would probably buy it alone because of the amazing illustrations and cover. The mood of the book is soft and the pictures compliment that perfectly. It had everything I would want in a children's book and it will definitely be a favorite of mine for life. I really don't know what else to say, I liked the book that mu
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
I liked very much the illustrations, but found the story to be rather weak and not really coming together. It's a touchy and difficult subject but I don't think that this approach is particularly good in helping children understand the idea of loss, or learning how to deal with it, for that matter.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tracy Smith
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Illustrations are beautiful and the relationship between the boy and his grandmother is touching. I love that she is a good female role model. The building of a grandma robot and it running through the ocean with the boy was just a bit too fantastical and philosophical for me!
Donna Mork
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
A little bit sad. Boy lives with his grandma, and she gets older then passes away and leaves him alone. So he builds a grandma and she comes to life. She takes him to the house she built for him and he finished it.
Zoe Mobbs
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really loved the illustrations of this book and the overall I thought it was a magical story. It is a lovely book to show to a child who has lost a loved one! I had to read this a few times as I wasn't sure if I liked it however the more I read it the more I grew to love it.
Happy Birthday David Litchfield and thank you very much for this lovely book and its wonderful pictures. The relationship with the grandmother and grandson and the way it was portrayed really did make me cry. What a lovely message at the end.
Isa Rive
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
Glorious illustrations but I just didn’t click with the story, maybe it’s something about being an adult and a desire for things to make sense. The boy building his dead grandma as a robot and ‘her’ coming alive just didn’t work.
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-book
Although it's a little bit "Iron Giant: The Geriatric Edition," this story beautifully illustrates that our loved ones remain a part of us even after death.
Ms Threlkeld
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Lovely fantasy story about a boy dealing with the passing of his grandmother.
Emily Kazmierski
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
The illustrations in this are beautiful. It's a quick read, but meaningful. My four year old loves it.
Jennifer Strong
Sep 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, children-s
Maybe there is some deeper meaning I'm missing, but this book didn't make a ton of sense.
Tina Hoggatt
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A curious, dreamy book, beautifully illustrated. Metaphorical in its use of architecture and building yet right there in real life with the boy as he builds his homage to his grandmother.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: children
Oh, a mystery for children to solve. And the loss of a loved one. Beautiful art and mysterious fantasy.
Mireille Abbots-Vergnaud
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This story is about a boy who loses his grandma. This is a very tough subject to write about for children but I think the author has done it very well. I love the illustrations in this book as well.
If you’re looking for a logical story which explains death and the grieving process, this is not it. It is, however, a magical tale of family and legacy.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Bear and the Piano
  • Grandad's Island
  • My Heart
  • Journey
  • Grandad's Secret Giant
  • Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth
  • Windows
  • Frog on a Log?
  • Sidewalk Flowers
  • A Stone Sat Still
  • Bad Dog
  • The Darkest Dark
  • Town Is by the Sea
  • Franklin's Flying Bookshop
  • The Bear, the Piano, the Dog, and the Fiddle
  • The Storm Whale
  • Greta and the Giants
  • The Story of the Little Mole Who Went in Search of Whodunit
See similar books…
Ross Montgomery has worked as a pig farmer, a postman and a primary school teacher, so writing books was the next logical step. He spent his childhood reading everything he could get his hands on, from Jacqueline Wilson to Beano annuals, and it taught him pretty much everything that's worth knowing. If you looked through his pockets you'd find empty crisp packets, lists of things to do, and a bott ...more

News & Interviews

Bryan Washington, the acclaimed author of 2019’s short story collection Lot, has returned with his debut novel, Memorial. The story follows...
15 likes · 4 comments