Young Frank Architect

Young Frank Architect

Our view on Young Frank Architect

A beautiful children's book (ages 3-7) to fall in love with. 

This picture book by Frank Viva absolutely charmed me. It's a great read and the perfect present for children who spend supper time making palm trees out of bananas and piling their vegetables into wobbly tower blocks.

What's more, it is a lovely way to learn about MoMA's architectural collection, a gentle reminder of the joy of shared experiences and a call to let our imaginations soar, no matter how young, or old, we may be. 

Young Frank Architect synopsis

Young Frank is an aspiring architect who sports a bow tie and black round Le Corbusier style glasses. He sees creative possibilities everywhere and uses anything he can get his hands on—macaroni, old boxes, spoons, books and sometimes even his spotted dog, Eddie—in his creations.

However, his grandfather, Old Frank, who is an architect, is somewhat bewildered by Young Frank's architectural creations. He decides to take his grandson to MoMA 'to see the work of some REAL architects.’ As they tour the displays, it surprises both Young Frank and Old Frank to see the unusual shapes and designs created by the Famous Franks (Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry), and others like Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand.

Inspired by their visit, they decide to work together on creating all sorts of inventive buildings with household items, including a library made of chocolate chip cookies. Young Frank feels older, like a REAL architect, and his grandfather feels enthused to try new things in his architectural practice. 


Young Frank Architect press reviews

'What is the relationship between creativity, art, and design? In exploring a question not often asked in children's picture books, Viva takes on an interesting challenge. Young Frank lives with his grandfather, Old Frank. They look almost exactly alike, with little hair and large black-rimmed glasses, and they are both architects. Young Frank likes to make things from any available materials. His toilet-paper-roll chair and wiggly book skyscraper, however, are dismissed by Old Frank, who takes his grandson to the museum to see the work of “REAL” architects. Readers who think architects build only structures may be confused by the lack of explicit explanation that they can be visionary artists, creating a range of objects. At the Museum of Modern Art, the Franks view Charlotte Perriand's Revolving Armchair and Arthur Young's Bell-47D1 Helicopter, among other exhibits. They are so excited by what they see that when they return home, they execute their own designs and put together an amazing city.' - School Library Journal

'With his upturned nose, thick-­rimmed glasses, bow tie, and petite yellow hat, Young Frank is both sophisticated and childlike, experimenting with everyday materials under the watchful eye of his namesake architect grandfather. Not a Frank goes unnoticed as the unusual pair explores the Museum of Modern Art. The trip is educational for both, exposing the creativity involved in building design. Rust oranges, olive greens, and lavender blues give a distinguished atmosphere to this imaginative book. Ages four to eight' - Foreword Reviews

'a gorgeous example of multi-layered children's storytelling -- part showcase of MoMA's architecture and design collection, and part allegory for architectural innovation' - Archinect

'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.' - Publishers Week 

'Adorable' - Huffington Post

About Frank Viva

Frank Viva is an illustrator and designer who lives in Toronto, Canada. He is a cover artist for The New Yorker and sits on two college advisory boards. He is passionate about cooking, eating, and his daily bike ride to the office. 

His first picture book, Along a Long Road, received wide critical acclaim and was chosen by the New York Times as one of the Ten Best Illustrated Books of 2011. 

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