I am delighted to be able to take you all to beautiful Barcelona today!
Carmen and the House that Gaudi Built is a stunning new picture book by Susan Hughes and Marianne Ferrer, which published in March 2021. A memorable visit to Casa Batlló was Susan’s inspiration to create this imaginative story.
Susan is the author of more than 30 books for children, she also offers editing services and story coaching for any writers out there that might find this useful. Check out her website here http://www.susanhughes.ca/
Title: Carmen and the House that Gaudi Built
Written by: Susan Hughes
Illustrated by: Marianne Ferrer
Published by: Owlkids
Suitable for ages: 4 – 8 years
Themes/Topics: dwellings, reptiles and amphibians, nature and outdoors, moving, architecture, travel
Opening: “Carmen Batlló, our very important visitor is here!” called Mercedes. “Where are you hiding this time? Come out!”
Book Synopsis: (taken from Amazon)
Carmen Batlló and Dragon, her imaginary salamander friend, love exploring the woods behind their home. But when Carmen’s family announces a move to the city, Carmen is miserable. Not only will she lose her connection to nature, she will also lose Dragon. After all, the city is no place for salamanders.
As she watches her family’s new house take shape under famous architect Antoni Gaudí, Carmen discovers Gaudí also has a passion for the natural world. Walls curve and rise like a cave, mosaic flooring sparkles like lilies on a pond, and a fireplace shaped like a mushroom keeps the house warm. Best of all, there’s even a place for Dragon!
Inspired by the real Batlló family and the house Gaudí designed for them, this picture book encourages readers to find inspiration in their surroundings and keep their hearts open to change. Stunning watercolor illustrations bring Gaudí’s inventive designs to life. An author’s note provides more information about the real story behind the house and Gaudí’s lifelong passion for nature.
Why I like this book:
I remember chatting about imaginary friends with a family member who spent many years talking to “Mabel” in the garden while his sister was in hospital. So, I was delighted that Carmen, the protagonist of this story, had an enormous salamander as her imaginary friend!
I loved how the story was fictional but based on a real building in Barcelona which the Batlló family had bought and commissioned the world renowned Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi, to remodel. Writing somewhere in between reality and imagination, Susan uses Carmen, the youngest of the five Batlló children, to tell the story. The ‘daughter they can’t keep inside’ spends all her time outside with Dragon, her salamander, so of course is not thrilled when the family announce they are moving to the city. With gentle coaxing from Senor Gaudi, who is inspired by nature, she finally learns to trust to the man creating their new home and is thrilled at the house’s wild beauty. To tie the story up perfectly there is an “amazing surprise” for Carmen up on the roof. The stunning watercolor illustrations by Marianne Ferrer, in slightly muted colors, bring the pages to life perfectly, and transport you to the fabulous Gaudi buildings in Barcelona. An excellent book for nature loving children and parents, perfect for families planning a move, and also for anyone wishing to travel but has to wait until it is safe to do so!
Photo credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casa_Batll%C3%B3#/media/File:Batllo-godo-per_Napoleon.jpg
Activities to link with the book…
- Learn to draw a salamander here https://www.wedrawanimals.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/fire-salamander-tutorial.png
- Create a salamander collage with torn pieces of colored paper.
Thanks so much for popping by everyone and have a lovely Friday!