Early Readers Middle Grade Picture Books

Architecture & Built Environments: A review of SOILDED magazine 8th Issue

When SOILED Magazine approach us about their 8th issue, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Architecture, magazine and children stories are three concepts you would never see rolled into one, but that’s what onceuponascrapers is. Upon opening the magazine I am greeted by graphic lines of reds and blues, reminiscent of old text books and two-colored printing, even the font bring off the structural idea associated with architecture.

The first story, Around the Block, is the perfect opening to a collection of children’s story on architecture. It’s an exploration on the idea of curve and straight lines. It starts with a girl and boy with one preferring curves, while the other straight lines. A debate ensues, but as it ends, its offers this aha moment, one that be seen as a good way to teach appreciation for architecture, while at the same time can be expanded to the basic truths in life.

Page from Around the Block by Julia McMorrough

The Issue continues with stories accompanied by words and those that are wordless. The wordless stories offer spaces in appreciating the shapes and lines of the illustrations while at the same time allows a child to make up theirs stories, figuring out the narrative behind the pictures.

Page from Window Shopping by Iwha Choi

Each story has a unique illustration and story line. The graphics offer space for students to go off the stories, while appreciating how buildings and objects are build through shapes and structure. For instance in the story of  The Little Girl and the Sun, the illustration are made of simple shapes that inspires the reader to attempt to re-draw the images while at the same time explore perspective and curiosity.  It’s wordlessness allows conversation between child and guardian, opening possibilities to the narrative while letting the pictures guide them. In my mind, a child could even add to the story, re-drawing the girl, her rabbit and sun.

As the pages progress, I am greeted with a collection of unique stories, some quite unexpected like that of The Pointer. It’s a story about the humble cursor, while to my adult mind these seems like an unnecessary story, the educator in me liked how it introduces a child to this concept. I think of it as wonderful material for discussion on computers and how to use them.

The magazine ends with a story, Grandma’s House, that, if anything, is easy to relate to. It is a story that starts and ends with a house. I liked that. I like that this unusual issue combining architecture, magazine and children story ends with something solid and familiar, after all a house is one application of architecture that is close to home.

SOILED’s 8th issue, onceuponascrapers offers an interesting introduction to architectural and design ideas into a child’s world. The stories don’t scrimp on teaching. However, if there is one thing I hesitate with is that the graphics can be at times too obscure and too abstract for a child. Young children, 3+, are concrete thinkers. Words themselves are hard to understand at times and I feel the graphics should  anchor the child to the story. There were some stories where the illustrations were creative, but not necessarily attractive to a child. Aside from that, SOILED surprised me with is unusual concepts and I think it’s a lovely way to introduce creativity, art, space, built environments and architecture to children.

Gathering Books was offered a free pdf copy in exchange for our honest thoughts on the magazine.

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