New York City’s Museum of Modern Art has a brilliant new way of introducing young readers to works in its group: children’s storybooks. Along with the very first, branded Young Frank, Architect,by award-winning and bestselling children’s book writer Frank Viva, is all about design.
The narrative follows a young architect named Young Frank who likes to make things from household materials, such as, for instance, a seat from toilet paper rolls and a twisty building from novels.
Such as the plotline itself, the examples also have properties that are architectural. “The caliber of the line was inspired by old blueprints, which I adore,” Viva says. “The concept for the color palette started with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Cherokee Red and grew from there.”
Young Frank’s grandpa, Old Frank, is also an architect but he’s, well, old school and does not think architects should make things such as cardboard-roll seats and twisty buildings. The pair, wearing matching Le Corbusier–recalling eyeglasses, head to MoMA to sort out their argument and watch”the work of some REAL architects.”
“I think that the whole thing was just a fantasy, although I had a similar relationship with my grandfather as a child,” Viva says. “The eyeglasses, bow ties and hats are just fun clichés.”
At MoMA they encounter pieces currently in the museum’s real collection, including Frank Gehry’s Wiggle Chair and Frank Lloyd Wright’s model of Broadacre City. “Are all architects named Frank?” His grandpa is asked by young Frank.
When Young and Old Frank buy home, they spend the evening making things together, such as wiggly seats and twisty towers from toilet paper rolls and even chocolate chip cookies. Seeing the museum collection makes Young Frank feel old and Aged Frank feel younger.
This is actually the first in a series of children’s storybooks published by MoMA. A collaboration involving illustrator Maira Kalman and writer Lemony Snicket featuring photos from the museum’s collection plus also a picture book about Henri Matisse are coming shortly.
Young Frank, Architect is available at MoMA stores and online for $16.95 ($15.95 for members).