Houses of Adobe.
Grades 4 - 7 / Ages 9 - 12.
What was life like for the first people who roamed the mountains and plateaus of the American Southwest? Houses of Adobe, part of Bonnie Shemie's Native Dwellings series, provides an interesting and informative picture of life here hundreds of years ago. Like the other volumes in the series, illustration and text complement each other to produce a comprehensive look at this enduring and fascinating architecture.
In Houses of Adobe, Shemie describes the surprisingly sophisticated Native architecture of North America and the ingenious people who created it. The great houses of Chaco Canyon, for example, were built around 900 AD. "The biggest, Pueblo Bonito, had 800 rooms and 32 kivas, and could house a thousand people. Skillful masons built walls that were four feet thick at the base and rose as high as four stories." Another example of human ingenuity were the cliff dwellers of Mesa Verde who lived high above the ground; their airy abodes protected them from enemies as well as environmental dangers such as intense heat, cold, and storms. Captured throughout the book is the author's admiration for the architectural marvels and the resourceful people who designed them.
Shemie's architectural training is evident in the detailed and well-proportioned drawings - the coloured illustrations in earthy tones give a real sense of the landscape. Black-and-white diagrams and full-page colour illustrations create a nice balance between text and illustration.
The book is well organized. It progresses chronologically, and shows a clear development in the sophistication of the architecture. Headings in bolded black print at the top of the page clearly divide the book according to topic while coloured maps on the inside of the cover pages help to situate the Four Corners Region within our own geography. Though architectural terms like pueblo and kiva are sprinkled throughout the book, each word is well-explained, often with the help of a clearly-labelled diagram. A short bibliography at the beginning of the book lists additional sources of information for those interested in learning more about the Southwest and Native American architecture.
Houses of Adobe is also available in French under the title Maisons d'adobe. This book, in conjunction with the others in the series, is an excellent and affordable resource for libraries and the home.
Jennifer Sullivan works within the Canadian Children s Literature Service of the National Library of Canada.
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Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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