Review of Building Zaha: The Story of Architect Zaha Hadid

Building Zaha: The Story of Architect Zaha Hadid
by Victoria Tentler-Krylov; illus. by the author
Primary, Intermediate    Orchard/Scholastic    48 pp.    g
12/20    978-1-338-28283-2    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-338-67489-7    $11.99

With fittingly bold, whimsical, flowing illustrations, this picture-book biography showcases Iraqi British architect Zaha Hadid, who “dreamed big and defied convention.” Born in Baghdad in 1950, Hadid was an active, observant child, noticing the shifting “light and shadow play” in local palaces and mosques, and the “rippling harmony” between people and their environment in the Iraqi marshes — keen observations that would later inform her work. After studying math in Beirut, Hadid moved to London: “It was time to get serious about studying architecture.” The daring young professional, who “reached for paints and brushes and conjured structures that tilted, swayed, and floated on air,” was hired by two of her professors after graduation and also entered design competitions. Tentler-Krylov describes Hadid’s confident persistence in the face of criticism (“she had to be tougher than most”) and tracks her burgeoning career with vivid details (her fire station in Germany resembled “a bird taking flight”). Rendered with watercolor and digital tools, the illustrations exude energy and power. This stirring tribute to the “first woman, first Iraqi, first Muslim, and youngest person ever” to win the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest award, includes an author’s note, a timeline, a bibliography, and endpapers featuring photos of Hadid’s most famous structures. Pair with Jeanette Winter’s picture-book biography of Hadid, The World Is Not a Rectangle (rev. 9/17).

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Tanya D. Auger

Tanya D. Auger
Tanya D. Auger is a former middle school teacher with a master’s degree in learning and teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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