One of my favorite reading challenges is Kid Lit Frenzy’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge. Check out Alyson’s recommendations and follow the links in her post to find other reviews of other terrific nonfiction picture books.
This week I read Lynn Curlee’s Brooklyn Bridge, a history of the construction of one of America’s most iconic structures written for older readers. The bridge was conceived in 1852 by manufacturer and engineer John Roebling, who began drafting ideas for the bridge in 1867. It would be another 16 years before the bridge was finished. Roebling himself died early in the construction process in a freak accident. His son, also an engineer, took over the project, though he too would be injured in the bridge’s construction.
I had no idea that when the bridge was opened in 1883, it was the tallest structure on the continent, the longest bridge in the world, and one of the first structures in the world to be made of steel. It’s hard to even fathom how such a feat of engineering was accomplished given the tools and machinery available in 1883. Curlee provides many details about the huge engineering challenges that the bridge presented. It’s quite a dramatic story. Although these sections are clearly written, I still struggled to follow the details of the bridge’s construction. When I got to the end of the book, I discovered diagrams that label all the parts of the bridge and cleared up some of my confusion over different technical terms that had confused me within the text.
Curlee’s paintings throughout are magnificent, and there are helpful maps and diagrams. Readers interested in architecture, building, and engineering will love this book.