Nonfiction Monday: Two great books by Giles Laroche

IF YOU LIVED HERE: Houses of the World
written and illustrated by Giles Laroche
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-547-23892-0
Grades 2 and up
Reviewed from personal copy.

Step into unique homes from around the world and discover the many fascinating ways in which people live and have lived. If you lived in the mountains of southern Spain, your bedroom might be carved out of a mountain. If you lived in a village in South Africa, the outside of your house might tell the story of your family. And if you lived in a floating green house in the Netherlands, you could rotate your house to watch both the sunrise and sunset.
With intricate bas-relief collages, Giles Laroche uncovers the reason why each home was constructed the way in which it was, then lets us imagine what it would be like to live in homes so different from our own. Showing the tremendous variety of dwellings worldwide—log cabins, houses on stilts, cave dwellings, boathouses, and yurts—this book addresses why each house is build the way that it is. Reasons—such as blending into the landscape, confusing invaders, being able to travel with one's home, using whatever materials are at hand—are as varied as the homes themselves. List of Houses included: Dogtrot log house, based on dogtrots built in the southern U.S.

I have to say that I loved this book.  Maybe it's my love for learning about other places and people, maybe it's the absolutely amazing illustrations, but this is a book that I will go back and reread many times just to learn new things every time. I appreciate the fact that all of the types of houses Laroche highlights actually exist.  The illustrations are of actual houses.  I was impressed with the sheer variety, everything from cave dwellings to tulous (my favorite type: could be round, square, oblong, octagonal and large like a whole town or small like a village).  This book is perfect for just browsing or for hours of fascinated study.  The illustrations provide an amazing amount of detail, the paper collage is stunning perfect for sharing.  I'd love to see the original artwork.  I highly recommend this book for introducing children to the many different types of houses available around the world.

WHAT"S INSIDE: Fascinating Structures Around the World
written and illustrated by Giles Laroche
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-618-86247-4
Grades 2 and up
Reviewed from personal copy.

As it takes us on a tour of some of the most unique and beautiful structures, this book shows how the purpose of each structure dictated its design, or location. Here are soaring glass skyscrapers (for working people) and a humble stone barn (for working animals); a sealed tomb hewn out of a limestone hillside (for buried reasure) and a majestic marble building, honoring a goddess. As it reveals what lies inside each structure, this book gives insight into the people who designed these buildings -- into their hopes, their lives, and their concepts of beauty. Included -- for budding engineers and architects -- are statistics such as the year built, square footage, materials used, height, and other little known statistics.

Structures included are: Tomb of Tutankamumn in Thebes, Egypt; The Parthenon in Athens, Greece; Temple of Kukulcan in Chichen Itza, Mexico; Buddha's Place in Shanxi Province, China; Walled city of Toldeo in Spain; Alcazar Castle in Segovia, Spain; Independence Hall in Philadelphia; Shaker dairy barn in Hancock, MA; A Circus big top tent, which traveled to many American cities; The Guggenhem Museum in NYC; The Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia; The Petrona Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; The Georgia Aquarium in Georgia, Atlanta.

This is a fun book about specific buildings/structures from around the world.  Not only does Laroche highlight the building but he asks a questions about each one, such as who's inside or what's inside.  This gives the reader a chance to infer who would use or what the building would be used for.  I enjoyed trying to figure each one out.  Some of the structures are well known, such as the Parthenon or Independence Hall, but others were new to me, such as the Petrona Towers or the Buddha's Palace.  I appreciated the map included at the end showing the location of each structure. The illustrations are primarily cut paper collage and they are incredible.  I looked at each illustration and imagined the many hours spent on each the details of each page.  I highly recommend this book for sharing, it would make for some great discussions about different places and buildings around the world.

For some more great nonfiction books, check out Nonfiction Monday. Today it's being hosted by Shelf-Employed


  1. These look wonderful! I haven't seen either of them yet. Thanks for pointing them out and for joining today's Nonfiction Monday roundup. Lisa

  2. I love books like these! Check out this one It's one of my fav.'s. :-)

    Great post!


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