cover image Iggy Peck, Architect

Iggy Peck, Architect

Andrea Beaty, , illus. by David Roberts. . Abrams, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-1106-2

Youthful irreverence and creativity find a champion in this tale of Iggy Peck, a child who once “built a great tower—in only an hour—/ with nothing but diapers and glue.” At the sight (and smell) of this wonder, Iggy’s mother memorably responds, “Good Gracious, Ignacious!” She supports his precocity, despite his preferred media. When Iggy arrives in second grade, however, his teacher forbids such follies, based on her childhood fear of skyscrapers. Her backstory suggests teachers’ rules can be arbitrary, not to mention damaging to inventive students: “With no chance to build, his interest was killed,” and Iggy droops disconsolately at his desk amid blank negative space. His ennui lasts until a fortuitous school picnic, when a rickety footbridge collapses (and so does the teacher); led by Iggy, the children construct a suspension bridge from “boots, tree roots and strings, fruit roll-ups and things/ (some of which one should not mention),” including undies. Beaty (When Giants Come to Play ) favors sprightly stanzas, while Roberts (Mrs. Crump’s Cat ) drafts orderly watercolor images on, alternately, clean white paper and graph paper. The structured rhymes and controlled illustrations fit the architectural theme, and if the mannered poetry strains at times, Roberts breaks free of the stylization with absorbing details. Each of Iggy’s 16 classmates, for example, has his or her own unique quality, implying the variety of personalities and potentials to be appreciated in any group of children. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)