|Back to Book Index
ROBERTO THE INSECT ARCHITECT
Written and illustrated by Nina Laden
ISBN# 0-8118-2465-9 (Hardcover)
Published by Chronicle Books 2000
Ever since he was a wee mite (termite that is), Roberto wanted to be an architect. He longed to follow in the footsteps of such architectural greats as Hank Floyd Mite and Fleas van der Rohe. Discouraged by comments from family and friends that he is biting off more than he can chew, he decides to follow his dream to the big, buzzing city, where he meets some not-so-creepy crawlers who spark in him the courage to build a community for them all.
With astoundingly detailed collage illustrations and a witty text, the creator of the bestselling "The Night I Followed the Dog," "Private I. Guana" and "When Pigasso Met Mootisse" brings to life a funny and inspirational story that will encourage readers of any age to build their dreams.
"This good-natured tale, whose striking collages incorporate wood products and city photographs, introduces a termite who "went against the grain.... Roberto didn't eat his food. He played with it." While other termites picnic on "wood chips" and shotgun shacks, Roberto yearns to build with boards. He also exhibits a philanthropic streak. His first project is a neighborhood for homeless bugs, including a fireproof stone dwelling for a ladybug whose first house, per the nursery rhyme, burned down. Laden (When Pigasso Met Mootisse) wittily imagines a termite with a social conscience, one who ensures that bedbugs have "their very own beds." She incorporates woodworking tools into her bug-themed spreads and creates furniture from carefully cropped pieces of cork and veneer. Ant-like Roberto hunches over a mahogany-brown drafting table, busily drawing blueprints for a milk-carton shelter and a conical hive with neat circular windows. Even if children don't get the gags about Hank Floyd Mite (seated at a Guggenheim-shaped desk with a sketch of Fallingwater) and Fleas Van Der Rohe, nonstop insect quips and humorous bug house illustrations keep this book buzzing along."
"While playing with his wood-chip dinner, prodigy termite Roberto dreams of being an architect. He moves to the city, where he tries to find a job with famous designers but all reject him. Wandering home, he meets swarms of disenfranchised, homeless bugs, and he decides to build a community for them. Planning and building the entire project himself, Roberto creates a sensation even before his identity is revealed, and once the secret is out, he becomes a legend. The lively text is filled with challenging words and some fun puns, although many of them, like the hilarious Hank Floyd Mite and Fleas Van Der Rohe, will be beyond the youngest readers. It's the elaborate, whimsical collages that are exceptional here. Nearly bursting from the pages, they combine painted, drawn, and photographed images in spreads that perfectly capture the energy of the city and the creative excitement of architecture, as well as irresistibly expressive bug characters. An architectural fantasy picture book for children who dream of building."
"This charming book combines clever wordplay, exuberant illustrations, and the inevitable message about following your dreams." -Architecture Magazine
Smithsonian Notable Book 2000
Book Sense Top 76 Pick
Society of Illustrators Silver Medal
Bookbuilders West Design Award
Soon to be an Animated Short Film for the School Library Market from Weston Woods!