cover image Young Frank, Architect

Young Frank, Architect

Frank Viva. Museum of Modern Art, $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-87070-893-0

Wearing matching bow ties, straw boaters, and Philip Johnson–inspired spectacles, Old Frank and his grandson, Young Frank, debate the definition of architecture. When Young Frank crafts “a chair using toilet paper rolls,” Old Frank argues, “You can’t really sit in this one, can you?” When Young Frank makes “a skyscraper out of books,” Old Frank sputters, “Buildings should be straight.” To sort things out, they head to “the museum” (MoMA, of course) and find a few surprises, including a “wiggly chair designed by an architect named Frank” and a “twisted tower by an architect named Frank.” Since Frank Gehry created his corrugated-cardboard chair in 1972, and Frank Lloyd Wright died in 1959, this intergenerational battle is a bit behind the times. Yet Viva (A Long Way Away) revels in midcentury modern styles, picturing his throwback characters and Manhattan cityscapes in wavery ink lines and a muted palette. Besides implying the fading distinctions between architecture and design, Viva sends the Franks home to construct experimental towers from bottles, blocks, and cookies—spontaneous play any budding architect can appreciate. Ages 3–7. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Sept.)