cover image And So They Build

And So They Build

Bert Kitchen. Candlewick Press (MA), $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56402-217-2

They build ingenious structures--umbrella-roofed houses, self-heating mound-homes and bowers painted in tasteful blueberry-blue. But these designers are untutored: they include the cubiterme termite, the harvest mouse, the swallow and the fastidious ``bowl-and-doily'' spider. Kitchen ( Animal Alphabet ) records a dozen startlingly distinctive building traditions in elegant spreads, with explanatory prose facing his characteristically luxuriant and precise watercolor-and-gouache paintings. Beautiful and scientifically accurate, the illustrations will lure even the slightly curious. The text, ever accessible, explains not only what these creatures build, but why: to protect their eggs, to trap their food, to shelter their young, etc. While Kitchen's book takes a more elementary approach than, for example, Bruce Brooks's Nature by Design , even adult artists and engineers will be inspired by the creativity and diversity of his subjects. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)