Someone Builds the Dream by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Loren Long

Someone Builds the Dream by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Loren Long, Dial Books, 9781984814333, 2021 

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Picture book

What did you like about the book?  How do giant undertakings go from blueprints to reality? Here Wheeler and Long show us a variety of projects: a house, a bridge, a fountain, a wind turbine, a roller coaster and finally, their book. Each moves from a sketched idea to a three-dimensional object. We get to see the architects, designers, and artists as they draw plans and the workers using machines and tools to create and build. I liked the diversity of dreamers and doers. We see men and women, all of different races, ages and abilities, coming together to get the job done. Children interested in tools and vehicles will enjoy looking at everything on display here, and pet lovers will notice that many of the designers work in offices with a dog or cat lounging nearby. Long says he was inspired by the WPA murals of the 1930s, and the figures, with their bulging muscles and work boots, certainly recall those masterworks. He used acrylics with vibrant hues and each large project fills up a double page-spread, which gives a sense of scale to the work.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I didn’t find Wheeler’s rhyming text to be interesting or illuminating.  She keeps reiterating that someone has to build the dream, but I’m assuming most children already know that and will yearn instead for more particulars on who the various figures are and how they contribute. The poetry also gets pretty clunky: “A scientist earns a degree in physics and ecology. He aims toward cleaner energy…” Does it have to rhyme? Clean and well-written prose would better support the eye-popping illustrations.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Children aged 3-6 who are interested in building and vehicles. This book could be a good read aloud for Labor Day (and how many of those do we have?) or as an activator for a STEM unit (first we need a plan, and then we can get to work).

Who should buy this book? Elementary schools and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: June 13, 2021

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