HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Building Blocks
Author: Cynthia Voigt
Jacket Illustrator: Eileen McKeating
Publisher: Sagebrush, republished 2002
ISBN-13: 978-0613450188 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0613450183 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0590477321 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0590477323 Paperback
Language level: 5
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 16 and up
Rating: *** 3 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Voigt, Cynthia. Building Blocks (Published in 1984 by Point Books, an imprint of Atheneum Publishers, New York City, NY). What would it be like to be older than your father? It is the summer of 1974, and twelve-year-old Brann Connell lives in New York with his father Kevin, who has a “lousy draftsman job” and wants to keep a farm which he has inherited in Pennsylvania near where he grew up, and his mother Diane, who has scored in the Number one percentile on her New York law school aptitude test and wants to sell the farm so that she can quit her job at Legal Aid to go to law school in New York. There are also two older siblings, Harry, in college, and Sarah, a senior in high school. Brann, who believes that his father is a “loser,” is sick of hearing his parents argue all the time and thinks that his dad could stand up for himself more, instead of building a wall of excuses to hide behind.
To escape the dispute, Brann creeps into the basement and falls asleep in the middle of a fortress of old building blocks belonging to his dad. When he awakens, he has traveled back in time some thirty years to a different age when his father was only ten, two years younger than himself. What was his dad like as a child? Does Brann learn any lessons from this experience? And will he ever be able to get back to his own day? The language is a bit rough for children. Brann’s friend Marty Elliot is said to consider his own dad “pretty much of a horse’s a**.” There are references to having to “pee,” Brann uses the “h” word, and the term “Lord” is found as an interjection. Also, mention is made of drinking beer. Otherwise, Building Blocks is an interesting story of how Brann comes to understand his father’s defeatism and aloofness.