Thursday, January 31, 2013

Exploring Changing Landscape with Intermediate Grade Children: Recommended Books

Fourth and fifth grade teachers I have the pleasure to work with are going to be exploring the topic of change. Here are a few favorite children's books where the concept of change plays a most significant factor.  These books also share another commonality.  They are exquisitely illustrated and that alone makes them worthy of study, especially the works by Jeannie Baker, Roberto Innocenti and Jörg Müller.

Collage by Jeannie Baker

Baker, Jeannie. (2004). Home. New York: Greenwillow.

Wordless picture book that explores through collages the transformation of an urban area. 

Baker, Jeannie. (2002). WindowNew York: Walker Childrens Paperbacks.

Wordless picture book that explores through collages the practice of exponential change on a landscape via human activity. The artist calls this work a picture poem.I couldn't agree more.

Collage by Jeannie Baker
from The House
Lewis, J. Patrick. (2009). The House. Illustrated by  Roberto Innocenti. Mankato, MN: Creative Editions.

Explores via poetry and image, a house during 15 different time periods across the 20th century. Amazing and detailed level of illustration.

Lyon, George Ella . (2011). Who Came Down That Road? Illustrated by Peter Catalanotto. La Jolla, CA: Kane-Miller.
A mother and child are out walking and the child asks the question, Who came down that road, Mama? The answer is rich and historical stretching from the present to mastodons. 

from The Changing Countryside
from The Changing Countryside
from The Changing Countryside
from The Changing Countryside
Muller, Jörg. (2006). The Changing Countryside. Alhambra, CA: Heryin Books.
An unbound book. Seven large, detailed, trifold posters make up this unique depiction of a small village as it changes, over two decades, from a town to a city. You will want o purchase this as it is still available. Muller's books become collector items. This one is still available.

Paxmann, Christine. (2012). From Mud Huts to Skyscrapers: Architecture for Children. Illustrated by Anne Ibelings.  New York: Prestel.

An over-sized non-fiction text that provides background information about the types of building humans have done from 10,000BC to present. Richly illustrated and detailed.
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Steiner, Jörg. (2007). The Bear Who Wanted to Be a Bear. Illustrated by Jörg Müller. Alhambra, CA: Heryin Books.

When a bear awakes from hibernation he finds his world has changed and the forest he knew has been replaced by a factory. This text helps to raise important questions about identity and environmentalism.

Front Cover

Wheatley, Nadine. (2009). My Place. Illustrated by Donna Rawlins. New York: Walker Children's Paperbacks.

A classic picture book that traces the history of one place from 1988 to 1788, accounting for the changes in landscape and intention.
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Zelvar, Patricia. (2005).  The Wonderful Towers of Watts. Illustrated by Frane Lessac. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press. 

Provides and account of how Simon Rodia, an Italian Immigrant to the Watts section of Los Angeles, built intricate and beautiful towers in his Watts backyard across 33 years. Now a landmark.


  1. I don't know any of these. All on my list now. Tx!

  2. Thank you for this post. I have been searching for the longest time for a book very similar to these but not these. I can't remember the name, the author, the illustrator or really anything other than that it showed a countryside changing into a city and that there was a cat in the pictures who in the final one looked like he would get run over. It's been haunting me. Do you know the one I mean?

    1. i don't. But now I'm intrigued. Let me know if you find out.


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