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The House Baba Built: An Artist's Childhood…
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The House Baba Built: An Artist's Childhood in China (edition 2011)

by Ed Young, Libby Koponen (Contributor)

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6913173,491 (4.19)5
Member:Chris-86
Title:The House Baba Built: An Artist's Childhood in China
Authors:Ed Young
Other authors:Libby Koponen (Contributor)
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2011), Hardcover, 48 pages
Collections:Your library, Five Star, Read 2012
Rating:*****
Tags:non-fiction, picture book, Chinese / American author / illustrator, memoir, China, childhood, family, war

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The House Baba Built: An Artist's Childhood in China by Ed Young

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Ed Young tells the story of his childhood in Shanghai. Born in the year Japan invaded Manchuria, Young lived in a sprawling, crowded, happy house his father built for them in a safe part of the city. It is a collage of memories presented in text, sketches, photos and colours. ( )
  storyLines | Jan 5, 2014 |
I struggled a little with sustaining my interest--a vignette or a small image or a caption would catch my attention, then I'd kind of skim over to the next thing--so I need to give this a fair re-read. The colors seemed a little muddy and not as cohesive as I would have wanted, but maybe that just supports the anecdotal nature of the text. ( )
  MelissaZD | Dec 31, 2013 |
I struggled a little with sustaining my interest--a vignette or a small image or a caption would catch my attention, then I'd kind of skim over to the next thing--so I need to give this a fair re-read. The colors seemed a little muddy and not as cohesive as I would have wanted, but maybe that just supports the anecdotal nature of the text. ( )
  MelissaZD | Dec 31, 2013 |
I had the misfortune to lose my father, roughly one month ago, after a protracted illness - a reality that I am still struggling to assimilate - and stories about the role that fathers play, in a child's life, about the houses they build, whether real or figurative, for their families, are especially poignant for me right now. So it is that The House Baba Built, a picture-book memoir about the youth of celebrated children's artist and author Ed Young - whose Lon Po Po was a Caldecott Medal-winner, in 1990 - and a tribute to his beloved father, moved me to tears this morning, and it was only by the strongest efforts at self-control that I avoided breaking down altogether on the train. I am, as it happens, having trouble writing this review without tears.

Leaving aside this coincidence of timing, and the fact that my visceral emotional reaction to the book has as much to do with the events of my own life, as with the ones depicted here, I believe I can truthfully say that this is an outstanding title, one with immense visual and narrative appeal. Young, assisted by Libby Koponen, sets out the tale of his boyhood in Shanghai, and of the extraordinary house that his architect father constructed for the family, which initially included Young himself, his parents, and his four siblings, but eventually grew, during the years of World War II, to include extended family, fled from Japanese-occupied Nanking, and a refugee family (the Luedeckes), fled all the way from Germany. The artwork, done in mixed-media that includes photographs of all the people depicted, is incredibly engrossing, suiting each passage to a tee, while the book's design itself - the occasional fold-out page, the arrangement of the type on different parts of the page - is creative, and adds to the reader's sense of being drawn in, and enfolded by the story - enfolded by the house that Ed Young's Baba built.

Most moving of all, however, is the sense that Baba's house, as depicted here, is more than just a structure, built of double-tiered brick walls and eighteen-inch thick concrete slabs (in order to withstand bombing), but also a feeling of family, a sense of security, and a way of living. Baba's house, as exemplified in the letter he wrote to his children, after they had spread to the far corners of the world, was something they took with them:

"Dear Children, ... You may put down as rule No. 1 that life is not rich not real unless your partake life with your fellow man. A successful life and a happy life is one measured by how much you have accomplished for others and not one as measured by how much you've done for yourself. love Dad"

Clearly, Baba's House is one worth living in, and I finished this book with a renewed appreciation, not just for Ed Young, and his family's story, but for the reality that we all of us, in some sense, live in the houses built by our parents. ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Apr 7, 2013 |
Ed Young's memoir about his childhood home in Shanghai is an astonishingly beautiful, exquisitely designed work of art, a genuine masterpiece. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316076287, Hardcover)

I knew nothing could happen to us within those walls, in the house Baba built.

In Ed Young's childhood home in Shanghai, all was not as it seemed: a rocking chair became a horse; a roof became a roller rink; an empty swimming pool became a place for riding scooters and bikes. The house his father built transformed as needed into a place to play hide-and-seek, to eat bamboo shoots, and to be safe.

For outside the home's walls, China was at war. Soon the house held not only Ed and his four siblings but also friends, relatives, and even strangers who became family. The war grew closer, and Ed watched as planes flew overhead and frends joined the Chinese air force. But through it all, Ed's childhood remained full of joy and imagination.

This powerful, poignant, and exquisitely illustrated memoir is the story of one of our most beloved children's illustrators and the house his baba built.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:14 -0400)

"In Ed Young's childhood home in Shanghai, all was not as it seemed: a rocking chair became a horse; a roof became a roller rink; an empty swimming pool became a place for riding scooters and bikes. The house his father built transformed as needed into a place to play hide-and-seek, to eat bamboo shoots, and to be safe. For outside the home's walls, China was at war. Soon the house held not only Ed and his four siblings but also friends, relatives, and even strangers who became family. The war grew closer, and Ed watched as planes flew overhead and friends joined the Chinese air force. But through it all, Ed's childhood remained full of joy and imagination."--Amazon.com.… (more)

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