ABC Book of American Homes

ABC Book of American Homes

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By: Michael Shoulders / Illustrated by: Sarah S. Brannen

"Not every family lives in a house with four straight walls and a roof."

Houses in trees, houses on water, houses with wheels! America is a country of diverse people who live in all types of homes--homes made of wood, metal, glass, even snow! In the desert, on a farm, or by the beach, American houses have only one thing in common—they provide shelter and comfort to those who live in them. No matter the size, shape, or location, they are places to call home.

This alphabetical survey spans over three centuries of architecture. Vivid illustrations and simple, informative text introduce young readers to the limitlessness of the American imagination. Readers will not only learn about a variety of houses, from yurts to pueblos to farmhouses, but about the variety of people who inhabit them.

Look Inside the Book:

Author & Illustrator Bios:

Michael Shoulders, author

Michael Shoulders has worked in the field of education for over thirty years. He is the author of several alphabet and counting books. He lives in Clarksville, Tennessee.

Read more about Michael.

Sarah S. Brannen, illustrator

Sarah Brannen received her BA in visual and environmental studies from Harvard College and her MFA in printmaking from the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author and illustrator of Uncle Bobby's Wedding (Putnam). Sarah lives in Massachusetts.

Read more about Sarah.

Awards & Honors:

  • ABC Best Books for Children

Editorial Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews

Broad spaces, small figures, precise architectural details and clean, straight lines gives Brannen's art in this alphabetical gallery of housing an elegant simplicity that Shoulders's matter-of-fact commentary struggles to emulate: "A is for apartment. All homes in an apartment building share the same roof. Families who live in apartments might have neighbors living beside them, below them and above them…." From Beach House and Cajun Cottage to Mobile Homes and Pueblos, from a Junk House built from recycled materials to the stately White House, the author draws them all together with the closing observation that, whatever a home's nature, "what makes it special are the people you share it with."


This picture-book presentation looks at 26 American dwelling places, from the familiar (apartment, mobile home, farmhouse) to the regional (igloo, pueblo, Cajun cottage) to the unusual (earth sheltered home, tree house, houseboat). A few entries appear on double-page spreads, but typically a single page is devoted to each type of house, with a paragraph of text accompanied by a nicely delineated and beautifully colored painting. Homes still in use today appear in full color, while those built mainly in the past are shown in gray or sepia tones. In nearly every case, the pictures include people (and often pets) inside or outside the bulding. . . . libraries should consider this book for their collections because of the variety of houses presented, the readibility of the text, and the quality of the illustrations.

Library Media Connection

As you read and look at the illustrations in this book, you can't help but wonder what life would be like living in the various homes. The author introduces the readers to some unusual homes like the Junk House and the Straw House. The Junk House doesn't look anything like its name, and the Straw House is much stronger than the Three Little Pigs version. The Sears, Roebuck and Company's Kilbourne mail order home (1921-29) is featured along with log cabins, mobile homes, recreational vehicles, tree houses, and many others. This book would be a great tool to use for discussion regarding the houses we live in and the people we know who live in different types of homes. Young people will enjoy reading this book and looking at the impressive illustrations. They add to the book by making you feel like you are part of the scene. The author ends with "home is where the heart is," and what makes a home special are the people you share it with. What a good thought to leave with the reader.

The National Center for the Study of Children's Literature

Charlesbridge Publishing is the King of alphabets; they succeed each year in publishing illuminating, informative, and appealing uses of the alphabet for their many books. As much a sampler of American history and abodes, The ABC Book of American Homes covers a lot of architecture, from "Cajun Cottages" to "Mobile Homes," "Recreational Vehicles," and "Yurts." We are indeed a diverse society; Shoulders and Brannen do a fine job of discussing and illustrating this great variety, including The White House.


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ISBN: 978-1-57091-565-9

ISBN: 978-1-57091-566-6

E-book PDF
ISBN: 978-1-60734-030-0
For information about purchasing E-books, click here.

Ages: 5-8
Page count: 32
10 x 10

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