Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Brooklyn Bridge #nfpb2015

nonfiction picture book challenge 2015

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.

brooklyn bridge

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.


9 responses to “Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Brooklyn Bridge #nfpb2015”

  1. Michele Avatar

    I have not seen this one before, but the illustrations look magnificent! Thanks for showing it.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I loved the illustrations! Will be looking for Curlee’s other books (he has one on polar exploration that I absolutely must get!)

  2. carriegelson Avatar

    Isn’t it amazing – how much we learn from all of this NF reading!?

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m often surprised by how topics that don’t sound that interesting to me (bridge construction, for example!) become riveting pageturners when the right author-illustrators write about them.

  3. Linda Baie Avatar

    I read a piece by David McCullough a long while ago about the bridge, & he too wrote of it being the highest place, said unless people climbed mountains, walking on the bridge was so “high” to them that they were mesmerized. Wonderful story to me. Thanks for telling about this book, too.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I was especially amazed that it was the tallest structure in the country, Linda. No wonder it was considered the 8th wonder of the world!

  4. Myra GB Avatar

    The Brooklyn Bridge that I know of is one by Karen Hesse which I asked our librarian to purchase – this one I don’t know about! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I haven’t read that Hesse title, Myra. It’s on my list…. This PB was a Sibert Honor, I believe, which is why my library purchased. Now I feel more inspired to read the Hesse novel too.

  5. […] review of a nonfiction picture book about the Brooklyn […]

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