A Children’s Book That Will Delight Adults

Slate's guide to consuming culture.
Aug. 11 2010 12:41 PM

A Children’s Book That Will Delight Adults

The best entertainment for children works on two levels—there’sa story that engages kids, along with subtext and humor aimed at parents. (Thinkof the Pixar model.) Steven Guarnaccia, chair of the illustration program atParsons the New School for Design, has re-imagined a kids’ classic in thisvein, resulting in TheThree Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale . The text hews closely to theoriginal yarn, but the three little pigs build their homes in the respective stylesof Frank Gehry, Phillip Johnson, and Frank Lloyd Wright (a house of scraps, ahouse of glass, and a house of stone and concrete—built over a waterfall,naturally). The illustrations are full of visual in-jokes: The third little pig’shouse contains an Achille Castiglioni lamp and a Le Corbusier armchair; thewolf tools around on a Philippe Starck-designed motorbike. But if you’re not someonewho can instantly identify a Nathalie du Pasquier rug or the Gamble House,there’s a visual key at the front and back of the book, so your kid can learnher Saarinen from her Rietveld—and you can, too.

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Noreen Malone is a senior editor at New York magazine.

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