The House of Happy Spirits : A Children’s Book Inspired by Friedensreich Hundertwasser
By Géraldine Elschner, Author & Lucie Vandevelde, Illustrator. In this fairy tale-like story a beloved tree is saved and children learn how architecture can co-exist with nature. The Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser believed that humanity and nature shared a harmonious partnership, a philosophy that he demonstrated with his architectural creations. Filled with color-saturated illustrations that echo Hundertwasser’s bold style, this story introduces young readers to the idea of environmentally conscious and playful architecture. When construction starts on a new building in Lea’s neighborhood, she fears that her favorite tree will be chopped down. For days she watches anxiously as the tree is covered up and surrounded by bricks. Finally, she learns that the tree has been spared and made the centerpiece of a fantastic new building, where it will live a long and healthy life. Lucie Vandevelde’s joyful drawings convey a kid’s-eye view of city life, complete with people, pets, automobiles, and machinery. As the new building emerges, readers will come to learn about some of Hundertwasser’s celebrated and offbeat principles—such as the rights of tenants to paint the walls outside of their windows, that trees should be given their own rooms, and that “straight lines lead to the downfall of humanity.” A brief biography of Hundertwasser at the end of the book fills readers in on the work of this pioneering artist whose ideas were once radical but are now integrated into many architectural concepts. For ages 4 and up.