A Dragon on the Roof: A Children’s Book Inspired by Antoni Gaudí

Prestel. Sept. 2019. 32p. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9783791373911.
K-Gr 3–The Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) is best known for the Basílica de la Sagrada Família and the homes he designed for Barcelona’s elite, characterized by undulating, asymmetrical spaces; stained glass; and fanciful roofs incorporating Art Nouveau, modernist, naturalistic, and sometimes fantastical forms. The design for his stunning Casa Batlló (the setting for this oversize European import), incorporates features of a dragon, from the interior carved handrails that represent its backbone to the vibrant iridescent tiles reminiscent of scales to the reptilian body draped over the building’s rooftop facade. At home with her dozing, elderly nanny, Paloma, the young protagonist of this story, leaves her chair. A storm is brewing and the girl opens a window, letting in a frenzied bat. Soon, the two encounter a frightful dragon that unleashes an explosion of water and waves into the house, echoing the many marine forms integrated into Casa Batlló’s design. Chaos ensues until the sleepy creature retreats to the roof. When unaware nanny awakes, something looks different, but she isn’t quite sure what. It’s a story readers have heard before, but here it’s the setting and architectural details of the celebrated home that drive the action and dialogue, albeit somewhat awkwardly. Full-spread, cartoon-like illustrations in warm golds, greens, and ocean blues feature stiffly articulated characters. Author and illustrator notes offer context about Gaudí and the building, but may be of more interest to adults than children.
VERDICT A slight story, probably best appreciated by those who have visited the site.
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