Reviews for Word Builder

Booklist Reviews 2009 January #1
Letters. Words. Sentences. Paragraphs. These are the foundations of writing, and this oversize book uses direct language and terrific artwork to show children how literal and figurative construction works. Paul s free verse is comprised of one or two lines on each page: "Begin your new construction with twenty-six letters." Or "Pile your words like blocks into sentence towers." As sentences are framed into "paragraph villages" and paragraphs are stacked into "chapter cities," a young boy in a hard hat labors mightily. As he hammers and shovels mortar, at first it is difficult to see the actual connection to letters, just a lot of close-ups of building procedures. But as the view moves back, "chapter cities" appear and children who look closely will see how the structures are built from letters. In the last spread, the boy, still wearing his hard hat, is reading the book that has been constructed. The art, rendered in pencil and digital color, seems almost three-dimensional and will fascinate readers. Teachers will find many uses for this.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 January #2
While the idea behind this visually dazzling effort has great potential, the execution may leave some feeling disappointed. In the world Paul and Cyrus have created, an androgynous construction worker hammers enormous letters into words, then piles the words into sentence towers that are held together with punctuation mortar. Framing organizes sentences into paragraphs, while stacked paragraphs create chapter cities. "Keep on building…until you have created…a whole world of book." The pencil-and-digital artwork varies in perspective from extreme wide-angle to super-close-up views, maximizing the impact of the illustrations and the construction theme. However, for the purposes of teaching children about writing, a preponderance of wide-angle views might have been in order. While the text describes sentence towers and their punctuation mortar, readers never get to see a completed one. And beyond the sentence level, the buildings simply look like tall houses with a letter at the roofline. The final illustration is masterful--the view over the construction worker's shoulder at the completed book, peopled with characters and full of action. For abstract thinkers, this could be a powerful tool. (Picture book. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 January #4

Construction devotees will adore the first half of this tall-format book, ostensibly about building: Cyrus (Tangle Town) combines ginormous-scaled, blocky images with loving detail (the ropiness of poured concrete, the tangle of cord attached to a jackhammer's air compressor). They'll also envy the boy in the hardhat who's confidently doing all the work. But readers may have trouble figuring out what exactly is being built. The concept: words, sentences and paragraphs are the building blocks of books. But as the components are absorbed into the whole, they lose their distinctiveness, and the end product--a vaguely Mediterranean fairy-tale village to illustrate "a whole world of book"--is disappointing. Paul's (The Seasons Sewn) poem presents another problem. The short lines impede narrative momentum, and the figures of speech ("Mortar each sentence/ with punctuation,/ then frame your sentences/ into paragraph villages") may be too abstract for this audience. Ages 5-7. (Feb.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 January

PreS-Gr 1--Letters are hammered into words, words are turned into towering sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into "chapter cities" in this construction-themed introduction to the craft of writing. Paul's spare text allows the illustrations to take center stage and Cyrus takes the cue, showing himself to be a master of perspective in one awe-inspiring layout after another. Ultimately, a little construction worker has created a whole world inside a book. Finally finished, he opens it to see a train carrying the letters "Once upon a time." Word Builder will provide teachers with a great introduction to writing, especially for children just beginning to put words and sentences together. Preschoolers will be drawn to the construction motif, regardless of the subject. Though vaguely reminiscent of Denise Fleming's Alphabet Under Construction (Holt, 2002), this title goes beyond the basic alphabet book premise and has none of the cutesiness of that work.--Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI

[Page 82]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.