TITLE: DREAM SOMETHING BIG
AUTHOR: Dianna Hutts Aston
ILLUSTRATOR: Susan L. Roth
PUBLICATION INFO: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2011
INTENDED AUDIENCE: age 4 – 8 (Kirkus)
GENRE: picture book (nonfiction, I think)
OPENING and SYNOPSIS:
“One chip of tile. Uncle Sam held it in his hand, studying it, his imagination turning like a kaleidoscope. He put it in his pocket. ‘I’m gonna do something big,’ I heard him say.”
Dianna Hutts Aston tells the tale of how a reclusive Italian immigrant spent 34 years building the Watts Towers — now a National Landmark — out of rebar, mesh, broken glass and tile. Then he gave a neighbor the deed to the property and walked away.
THEMES/TOPICS: history, folk art
WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: Roth’s collages are the perfect accompaniment to this little-known story, evoking the towers’ mosaics. Aston’s story is a fascinating look at a little-known folk artist told simply for the youngest readers. It sends the message that anyone can be an artist.
- Aston’s book contains instructions for building your own Watts Towers out of pipe cleaners and other craft materials.
- Learn more about the Watts Towers, including how to visit, here.
- A 1957 video about the towers and Simon Rodia can be found here. A documentary called, “I Build the Tower” is also available.
Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.
18 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: DREAM SOMETHING BIG”
Oh how cool! I didn’t know that story, how remarkable!
It’s a pretty amazing tale. Sadly, I have never been to the Watts Towers. I will have to make a visit.
Fascinating. Inspirational art in story and history!
I think its one of few designated historic places made by a folk artist rather than a professional.
What a magnificent choice Kirsten. I was spellbound by the video and watched the entire thing! All I could think was this man was an “old soul” — so humble and selfless. What he accomplished is a sigfnifcant message for young people. His artwork is inspirational and I am so happy that Aston and Roth joined to tell this story! I am so pleased it has been designated a historic site.
It’s an amazing story. Can you imagine building something for 34 years and then giving it your community and walking away? It’s incredible. Cooper (age 6) could hardly believe it was a real story.
I don’t think he ever felt it “belonged” to him. It built with his gifts, and the only thing he could do was give to is community. His work was completed.
I like that opening line – and the cover – on hold now!
The collages are incredible. There is so much texture. You just want to reach out and touch them!
Fascinating …I have never heard of this before. Thank you for sharing.
It’s an interesting topic. Being in southern California, I’m aware of Watts and the towers, but really had no idea about the history behind it.
This looks like a fascinating story! I really like the cover. I will have to check this one out! Thanks for sharing!
You will enjoy it! Aston is a wonderful writer, well known for AN EGG IS QUIET and A BUTTERFLY IS PATIENT among others.
This is a totally new story for me and I find it as fascinating as I am sure kids would.
What a fantastic story… which I know NOTHING about, and will have to read this book immediately to remedy the situation! Amazing what you learn on PPBFs! Thanks so much for adding this to our list, Kirsten – it sounds terrific!
Oh my goodness, Kirsten…what a lovely story. And the message, that anyone can be an artist, is a powerful one and important for young children to learn.:) It sounds like there are many other messages in this book…I will get a copy so I can read it. I love your resource/activity list.:)
Vivian, it’s a wonderful tale of selflessness and community. You will enjoy it!
From your review, I imagine the book is as engaging as the cover! I’ll have to find this one.