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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Earth Friendly Buildings, Bridges and More, written by Etta Kaner and illustrated by Stephen MacEachern. Kids Can Press, 2012. $19.95 ages 10 and up

"Hi. I'm Corry Lapont. The book you're holding is my scrapbook. I've been working on it for almost a year. Actually, I've been collecting the postcards of the structures in it for half my life. Sound weird? Mom says it's a case of the apple not falling far from the tree. (Me being the apple, and my parents being the tree.) My parents are both engineers."

Corry, her brother Riley and their parents have made many trips together. They visit places around the world, noting extraordinary accomplishments in the engineering of environmentally conscious architecture. While away, Corry has collected a multitude of memorabilia concerning the incredible structures they have visited. In terms of organization, she has categorized them into five sections: skyscrapers, bridges, tunnels, domes, and dams, dikes, locks and levees. 

As readers page through her scrapbook,  they will note the entertaining graphic illustrations and speech bubble dialogue shared by Corry and Riley. They will also learn much from the information boxes that are placed on most pages. They will be individually introduced to those engineers and planners who help construct the architecture being described. They will also learn about the science that has helped to create these green buildings and structures throughout the world.

The information is presented in a number of ways. There are explanations, experiments, journal entries, descriptions of school projects, letters, jokes, and suggestions for ways to become famous.  As well as that the illustrator has created cartoon-style artwork that is sure to capture attention by adding visual appeal for the target audience.  Photographs are labelled and captioned, sharing clear knowledge of the many different structures the family has visited.

Etta Kaner has done a great job of presenting short brief descriptions of these earth friendly structures. She gives enough information to give us a taste, and will leave budding engineers wanting more. I think that is the best way to get kids involved in reading nonfiction and encouraging further exploration of their personal interests.

Imaginative and informative, it offers a balanced mix of art and photos. Readers will come away from the sharing more knowledgeable about changes being made in architectural design, as well as a look at the world of engineering and the many different types of structures they design in order for their buildings to be friendly to our environment while also having a contemporary look. There is so much for me to learn, and I love that!  

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