From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4–Hopkinson and Ransome chronicle the construction of this famous building through the eyes of a young boy. The present-tense text gives the book a true You are there feel as the author describes both the actual building process and its significance as a symbol of hope during the Depression era. The pacing is never rushed, but at the same time it moves along at an energetic clip that matches the speed that characterized the construction of this National Historic Landmark. Ransomes stunning oil paintings vary in perspective as readers look up at what was once the tallest building in the world, and then down from dizzying heights as workers perch on girders on the 47th floor, feeding pigeons while taking a break for beef stew and coffee. An authors note reflects the painstaking and careful research done by both author and illustrator to ensure as authentic a presentation as possible. This is a fascinating look at a slice of American history and a worthwhile addition to any collection.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
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Gr. 2-4, younger for reading aloud. Crisp, lyrical free verse and bold paintings celebrate the skill and daring of those who constructed the Empire State Building. During the Great Depression, a young boy learns about plans for the building. As the tower rises, the boy visits the site with his unemployed father and sees in the emerging skyscraper "a symbol of hope / in the darkest of times." The second-person voice occasionally feels like a clumsy reach for connection with the audience: "It's the end of winter, / and your pop's lost his job." But Hopkinson makes the construction details thrilling in skillfully integrated lines, filled with statistics: "This steel is strong and new / only eighty hours old." Ransome's powerful acrylic paintings show the building in all stages of construction, and includes the workers' perilous views. A unique, memorable title, this will enhance poetry and history units and combine well with Susan Goodman's excellent Skyscraper
and Connie Ann Kirk's Sky Dancer
(both 2004). Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved