“A child’s dream of a loving home is realized in this beautiful collage of a bricklayer and his family.”
Collage illustrations introduce a small family with a son who adores his strong father, a bricklayer with “arms like stone.” Papi’s workday is shown in unison with his son’s, comparing their tasks as Papi touches the sky climbing scaffolding and the son reaches up while on top of the playground. “Papi’s work is brick by brick. Mine is book by book.” As dad builds buildings, the boy molds his playdough architecture. When the young boy asks his father when they will have their “always house,” Papi replies with a “someday” and continues hard at work mixing cement, laying bricks, and working until the dark. On Saturday, after a special breakfast, Papi surprises his boy with their new, forever home. Sheffield’s story shines for its rugged, earthy illustrations built with varying materials, matching the bricklayer’s profession, as well as the focus on a family with a blue collar job. The parallels between the boy’s and his father’s day beautifully demonstrate the boy’s utter adoration for his father—further expanding on the loving home shown through the unique and lovely illustrations of the family’s simple moments eating breakfast, sharing a hug, and working together in the yard. Other elements, such as speckles of Spanish phrases and uses of onomatopoeia, piece together to build the view of this family’s culture, dreams, and character. Filled with sweet sentiment, the story of this boy and his family contains the overarching reminder of a child’s desire for stability and love.
Heidi Woodward Sheffield (heidibooks.com) has received numerous awards from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for her illustrations, and Brick by Brick is her first picture book. On any given day, she can be seen taking photographs of textures that inspire her stories and collages. She especially drawn to old brick buildings, and likes daydreaming about the strong hands that built them and the people who lived there. She lives in Northville, Michigan.
To Mom and Dad, who built their lives brick by brick
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Text set in Coventry ITC Std
The illustrations were created using photographs, digital painting, and collage. Heidi used brick photos to create Papi and Luis, emphasizing their strength and fortitude.