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Steel Town Hardcover – May 20, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (May 20, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416940812
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416940814
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.4 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2–4—From the time children open the cover, everything about this oversize book speaks to the grand scale of steel and iron production circa 1935. Readers are drawn immediately into the heat and the grime of a steel town, from the tall trim size to the steely endpapers. The acrylic artwork creates an atmosphere of gloom with fiery furnaces and gray skies. Against this backdrop is the rhythmic, repetitious language detailing a day in the life of Steel Town. Starting with coal and ending with a "flaming river" of molten iron, the production of iron is lyrically described. The uses and purposes of iron round out the picture of steel while the workers go home and get ready for another day in the mills. Both informative and visually stunning, this beautifully written and powerfully illustrated picture book will make a perfect addition to any collection.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

What begins as an elegy to the industrial steel boom opens to reveal the quiet resilience of the human spirit. Winter imagines a 1930s steel town, dark and torrid with around-the-clock toil. Barges rumble under smoky skies, while men, dwarfed by behemoth machinery, swing, sweat, and pull. Careful, explicit descriptions of steel production, molded into sinuous free verse, call up the heat and hardship of the labor while expressing the indelible survival of the laborers. With the standard 32-page length extended by 8 pages, the book offers a belated, welcome hope at the end of a long shift; underneath the story’s sooty surface, neighbors cook, garden, visit, and celebrate one another in the shadows of the smokestacks. In a palette of sulfuric oranges and grays, Widener’s acrylic paintings resemble WPA murals,  and they evoke the same, fitting nobility. Though the contemplative treatment of a somewhat archaic subject may limit the book’s appeal, those who do discover it will find themselves enlightened, and moved. Grades 1-3. --Thom Barthelmess

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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My 5-year-old boy loves this book.
A. Buckley
Excellent explanation of the steel industry.
Cherie Stebner
The author really captured the essence.
adam hardinger

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Yana V. Rodgers on March 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Decades ago when the steel industry dominated Pittsburgh's economy, it seemed like the mills never stopped, barges carrying coal from the mountains constantly traversed the rivers, freight trains filled with steel kept rumbling past, and the sky was always black. This period also evokes images of resolute, grimy men operating the heavy machinery day and night, while women worked in other jobs and at home.

With its succinct, poetic text and bold, dark illustrations, Steel Town offers young readers a bracing look at life as a steel worker just a few generations ago. Added to the mix is an interesting depiction of how steel is produced, including the shoveling of coal into beehive ovens to turn it into coke, the production of pig-iron in the fiery blast furnace, and the transformation of molten pig-iron into steel at the steel mill. Parents and teachers seeking to teach children about natural, human, and capital resources will appreciate this book's stylistic yet informative account of steel production in yesteryear's gritty steel town.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brenna L. Campbell on February 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I grew up in Pittsburgh, where this book is set, and I learned more about the process of making steel while reading this book than I did in 17 years living in the Steel City. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is interesting and somewhat haunting. "Outside the furnace, it's so loud, you can't hear anything except for the roar. You can't talk. You can't do anything except for work, work and sweat, work and sweat." Our 5-year old's a big fan too. In fact, the last time we went to visit grandma, we had to hunt down a working mill.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My 5-year-old boy loves this book. My husband loves this book. We renewed it from the library the maximum number of times, so finally bought a copy. The illustrations are great and the writing is evocative and good for reading aloud. We happened to pass through Pittsburgh after discovering this book, and my son was excited to visit some of the old industrial sites, like the Hot Metal Bridge. So quite educational as well!
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By Cherie Stebner on December 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The images and story line are so realistic and the narrative is very educational. Excellent explanation of the steel industry.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Pitsburgh inside and out.my kid educates 40 year old people on how steel is made. Wow. The author really captured the essence.
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