The Building Boy
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The special bond that so often exists between child and grandparent is celebrated in this story of a little boy and his grandmother. Once a famous architect, Grandma loved sharing her memories of her award-winning career, and her dreams of the future with her grandson, dreams of the wonderful house she would one day build for the two to share. Dreams they would have to remain though, for Grandma is getting older and older – too frail for climbing upstairs let alone constructing houses: and then one day, inevitably, she dies.
Determined to keep her memory alive, the boy works relentlessly in all weathers constructing an enormous mechanical structure of a female figure. Staring into her eyes, he utters the words, ‘Grandma, wake up.’ This somehow brings the figure to life, whereupon the two take off on a magical journey across land and sea towards an unfinished building, just waiting for the final portion to be slotted into place. The place that must surely be Grandma’s final resting place and the beginning of something else – a fit memorial to a special person if ever there was one.
There’s a dreamlike, whimsical quality about this whole bittersweet story of love, loss and discovering your path in life. David Litchfield’s wondrous scenes are packed full of emotion. The way he uses light and dark adds that eerie glow of otherworldliness to what becomes an enchanted flight of warmth and tenderness for readers and listeners to ponder upon.
Whoever it was at Faber that paired these two up made an inspired choice, which deserves congratulating, as well a as the creators of this wonderful and unusual book.