Recommended by Liz at West Kendall Regional Library
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Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing
By April Jones Prince
After 14 years of construction, the Brooklyn Bridge, which connects that borough and Manhattan, opened for traffic in 1883. Called the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” this magnificent suspension bridge was hailed by New Yorkers, but some feared it was not safe. P.T. Barnum volunteered to have the star attractions of his circus, his elephants—including the enormous Jumbo—walk across the bridge to prove the naysayers wrong. In May 1884, accompanied by a marching band, Barnum and all 21 of the “Greatest Show on Earth” elephants paraded through New York City to the Brooklyn Bridge before thousands of spectators. The mighty pachyderms then shuffled across its one‑mile length, proving the bridge’s safety to one and all.
Magnificent illustrations by François Roca highlight the grandeur of the Brooklyn Bridge and the long parade of elephants. The lively text perfectly captures the larger‑than‑life P.T. Barnum and the adventurous builders of the age. For children who want to know more about the building of the bridge, try Lynn Curlee’s Brooklyn Bridge.Check Availability
By Brian Floca
Locomotive celebrates the building of the transcontinental railroad, which enabled Americans to travel from coast to coast quickly and safely for the first time. Its construction was a race to the finish by two train companies, the Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad. The two tracks joined on May 15, 1869; passenger service started just a few days later. The book follows the journey of a Nebraska mother and her two children on their way to reunite with the family’s father in California. As the trio travels through the western parts of the United States, the fireman, engineers and conductors do the hard work of running the railroad, while the family deals with 20‑minute food breaks, sleeping in their seats, and the crossing of rickety and bumpy bridges.
Floca’s rhyming text is great fun to read and filled with moments of humor and drama, but his illustrations are simply spectacular. The trains are shown as powerful and dynamic machines, driving straight toward the reader. A fascinating read for fans of trains and adventures; children may also enjoy Floca’s Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11.Check Availability
By Deborah Underwood
This clever retelling of the Cinderella fairytale begins, “Once upon a planetoid, amid her tools and sprockets, a girl named Cinderella dreamed of fixing fancy rockets.” Cinderella studies ship repair whenever she can and desperately wants to see the rockets in the Prince’s Royal Space Parade. She finds a way to attend thanks to her "fairygodbot," a set of new tools, a jeweled spacesuit and a power cell that runs out at midnight. Cinderella fixes a broken down rocket in time to attend the event, even repairing the Prince’s rocket when his ship malfunctions. The two watch the parade together until almost midnight, when Cinderella flies away leaving only her sprocket wrench behind. In a twist on the traditional ending, Cinderella becomes the Prince’s chief mechanic instead of his bride, and her joy in her new job will have readers agreeing with her that, “My stars! Dreams do come true.” The colorful and lively illustrations by Meg Hunt are a perfect complement to this independent and determined heroine.Check Availability
If I Built a Car
By Chris Van Dusen
Jack tells his father that their family car is “Nothing great. Nothing grand. It’s nothing at all like the car I have planned.” Jack works all night on his design, tweaking and refining, studying buses, zeppelins and trains. Colorful and shiny illustrations show Jack’s fabulous retro car design, with fins, a Plexiglas dome and jet engines for speed. But the exterior has nothing on the amazing interior, which includes a swimming pool, a couch and an instant snack bar. No self‑driving car for Jack; instead, a robot driver takes control of the car that can also submerge and fly.
Imaginative and filled with humor, this book is sure to be a hit with fans of cars and building. The stylish illustrations bring Jack’s wild designs to life, and at the books’ end, Jack is under the covers with a flashlight making the blueprints for his car design, which is shown on the end pages.Check Availability
Iggy Peck, Architect
By Andrea Beaty
Iggy Peck loves to build, from the tower of diapers he constructed as a toddler to the replica of the St. Louis Arch that he made with pancakes and coconut pie. Iggy continues to create structures in school until his second‑grade teacher, Miss Lila Greer, states, “we do not talk of buildings here.” Unbeknown to Iggy, Miss Greer had a traumatic field trip to a high‑rise skyscraper when she was 7, and decided that all building lovers were nuts! Poor Iggy finds second grade a bore without his buildings, until a class field trip finds the children and Miss Greer trapped on an island when a footbridge collapses. Iggy and his classmates set to work, creating a shoestring suspension bridge out of boots, fruit roll‑ups, tree roots and string, finally convincing Miss Greer that building and dreams have their place in grade two.
Illustrator David Roberts’s pen‑and‑ink and watercolor sketches are a delight, evoking a look from the early 1960s. Iggy Peck, Architect, may not convince children to pursue that profession, but expect readers to walk away with a greater appreciation of self‑expression and creativity. Also recommended are Rosie Revere,Engineer and Ada Twist, Scientist by the same author and illustrator.Check Availability