Andrea Beaty, Iggy Peck, Architect. Illus. by David Roberts. (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2007).
The relationship between formal schooling and creative work has long been contentious. More than one adult reader will remember the oppressiveness of mandated handwriting exercises, the difficulty of aligning smudgy erasable ink forms on easily-torn green-lined paper. Such work could make medieval calligraphy feel liberating. Yet there is no question that carefully-structured school lessons give all of us the tools to expressive ourselves with both creativity and coherence. What kind of balance, then, between freedom and restraint is conducive to architectural education?
Iggy Peck, Architect tells the story of a young designer who realizes his calling while still in diapers. Iggy builds freely until second grade, when the villainous Miss Greer quashes his effort to construct magnificent structures. When an emergency arises on a class picnic, however, Iggy's ingenuity saves the day. Miss Greer is then forced to recognize the value of architectural creativity and skill. The narrative does play into some tired stereotypes: for example, the spinsterly Miss Greer literally faints in distress while out with her charges. Iggy himself, who is drawn by David Roberts as a lithe little hipster, carries the heavy load being both the irrepressible class genius and a knight in shining armor. Suitable for 4-8 year-olds, Iggy Peck is a useful conversation-starter about the place of play and model-building in a school setting.
Further reading: Joan Ockman, ed.; with Rebecca Williamson, Architecture School: Three Centuries of Educating Architects in North America, (ACSA/MIT Press, 2012).