Builders and Breakers book review

Builders and Breakers
by Steve Light
Kindle edition,40 pages
Published by Candlewick Press (October 9, 2018)
ISBN 978-0763698720

I received this book for free from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

This one was a sleeper hit in my house. I read it for bedtime once or twice when I first got my review copy, but the six-year-old and four-year-old never asked for it again. That is the metric I use most of the time for children’s books, so I set this one aside for a bit.

Then, the nearly-two-year-old started asking for this. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, he is big into trucks and construction right now. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site is another current favorite.


I think he also likes the narrative device of the two children looking for their father at the construction site, which runs in parallel to the text, a story told almost entirely in pictures. He gleefully shouts “DAD!” when we get to the page where the children finally catch up to their father with his forgotten lunch.

For my own part, I enjoy Steve Light’s fanciful drawings. He has a note in the book where he admits to a fascination with classical, Gothic, and Art Deco architecture. This results in a style of illustrated buildings that is only loosely grounded in any project that has ever seen the light of day, but is quite striking.

This is the kind of book that has enough going on to keep me from going crazy when I read it twice in a row every night for weeks on end. Thanks Steve.

My other book reviews

Seriously, You Have to Eat Book Review

Seriously, You Have to Eat
By Adam Mansbach, Illustrated by Owen Brozman
Akashic Books, 2015
$15.95; 32 pages
ISBN 978-1-61775-408-1

I received this book for free as part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

I appreciate the work of Adam Mansbach, and new illustrator Owen Brozman. Mansbach's seminal work, Go the Fuck to Sleep, was an inspiration to me as a new parent. Mansbach perfectly summed up the way so many of us really felt, but could not express. Perhaps the most perfect version of Mansbach's first book is the audiobook narrated by Samuel L. Jackson:

This new work expands into the other great struggle of parents: getting your kids to eat something. Sleeping and eating are such primal things, so critical to the well-being of children, and also the things I often have to curtail for myself as a parent. Thus the endless frustration when your kids won't do the things you probably want to do most at that moment. The very vulgarity of these books is cathartic, freeing. I've long been an advocate of a black sense of humor as a coping mechanism, and Mansbach provides me just what I am looking for.

Of course, the problem is our kids tend to be interested in whatever we are interested in. I still remember the day my son pulled Go the Fuck to Sleep off the shelf in my library and asked me to read it to him. I had to tell him no, and hid it better.

Thus it is both a stroke of marketing genius [get us to buy essentially the same book twice] as well as extremely helpful to parents to have a bowdlerized version of Mansbach's book available to actually read to our children. The pity of it is that sanitizing the text alters the meter of the rhymes, as well as taking from me that critical emotion release. At least I can read it the original way in my head, as I read the children's book for the fifth time.

My other book reviews

Seriously, You Have to Eat
By Adam Mansbach