Brian O’Conaghan

The best of this year’s children’s books

In some children’s books, nothing much happens. In Roberto Piumini’s Glowrushes (Pushkin Press, £9.99), it’s like this: a father, a great Turkish lord, hires an artist to paint his sick son’s rooms for his 11th birthday, and together the boy and the painter create walls of wondrous imaginary landscapes. It turns out that you don’t have to travel outside your own room to inhabit new worlds. One wall is for the meadows of a goatherd, with tiny red goats, a lame dog and a distant minaret and a muezzin with a big nose. Another is for a besieged castle with a lovely princess atop a tower. And one room has

Why do the British still dream of bricks and mortar?

In Building Soul, Thomas Heatherwick’s recent Radio 4 series, architects are villains. According to the puckish designer of Google’s King’s Cross campus, the profession is in thrall to a ‘cult’ of modernism, intent on forcing us to live in houses that make us ill and work in offices that make us depressed. Is property ownership a natural state? When did we start toregard homes as investments? Heatherwick is often accused of over-simplification. His latest attack on the architectural profession, and his blaming of Le Corbusier as miscreant-in-chief, is worse. It misrepresents how and why buildings come to be. They are the work not of lone fanatics but of countless competing