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Picturing a World

Robida meets Larklight

In tidying up some computer files, I came across this whiz-bang drawing of a moving house by Albert Robida. It made me laugh all over again. Look at the lass pointing an umbrella on the lower porch balcony—she could be Myrtle in Philip Reeve's very funny steampunk novel, Larklight! In fact, David Wyatt may well have been partially inspired by Robida for his wonderful period-flavor, Larklight illustrations.

The Library of Congress catalogues this particular picture by Robida as "One of the artist's conceptions for his book on life in the upcoming twentieth century." The finished illustration appeared opposite p. 45. To view the book on line, click here.
The picture lends itself to a number of writing exercises. Tell the story it illustrates. For a middle-school audience, imagine the child heroes coming across an eccentric scientist who has built himself a house just like this. What happens when an art expert at an auction house finds a folder of previously unknown Robida original drawings? For whichever version you choose, list three things that must be true for the world you are inventing and three improbabilities. Choose one of the latter to propel the plot.
Or, instead of writing, read a review of Larklight and decide whether you just want to settle in and read it instead!

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