Dream Builder

By School Library Journal


Philip Freelon (1953–2019) was an artist, an architect, and a dreamer. This book begins with a peek into Freelon’s childhood. Lyons explores both his strengths and his struggles: his ability to excel at math and science as well as his challenge to learn to read. Lyons discusses her subject’s family, including mentions of his siblings, and his mother’s and his father’s occupations. His grandfather, who was a Harlem Renaissance artist, made a large impact on Freelon. He helped his grandson appreciate the small things in life. The narrative continues through Freelon’s high school experience, then follows his college career attending Hampton University and later North Carolina State. Lyons adds several references to the civil rights movement: Freelon watched Dr. King’s speech on TV and his father experienced segregation when traveling for business. An interesting page discusses Freelon’s research in discovering architects of other cultures and races, many of whom were not part of his higher education curriculum. The author highlights his masterwork as the architect of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Freelon was not as well known as architects Frank Lloyd Wright or Ludwig Mies van der Rohe but hopefully, with the exposure gained from biographies such as Lyons’s, his work and life story can inspire young readers to follow in his footsteps.