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Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing Hardcover – September 26, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 1-5–This well-researched, handsomely illustrated picture book captures the anticipation and uncertainties of those who witnessed the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. Focusing on Phineas T. Barnum of circus fame, who saw in the doubt an opportunity, Prince describes the pachyderm procession up Broadway, past City Hall, and over the bridge to Brooklyn. As viewers' and readers' excitement mounts, the author queries, How many pounds can the wondrous bridge hold? How many elephants are too great a load? After the successful spectacle, skeptics crossed fearlessly, and where did they go? Why, they went to the Big Top, of course! While many picture books have been written about this famous construction, this one is by far the best read-aloud. The sparse, yet powerful text contains both alliteration and occasional rhyme, making it a pleasure for readers and listeners alike. Roca's masterful paintings capture both the spirit of the times and of the expansive bridge, extending beyond the confines of the page to cover almost half of the adjacent one. Not to be confused with Phil Bildner's Twenty-One Elephants (S & S, 2004), which is wordier, more fictionalized, and visually less appealing, this title is ideal for units on local history and bridges.–Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 1-3. "Amazing, worth the waiting, / it was simply breathtaking. / The Eighth Wonder of the World." The Brooklyn Bridge was 14 years in the works, and when it was finally completed, some wondered if it would be safe for passage. This elegant picture book tells the true story of how circus man P. T. Barnum saw an opportunity to "amuse, inform, and astound" while erasing New Yorkers' concerns about the bridge's safety. In May 1884, the world-famous showman led a procession of 21 elephants across the bridge, including the seven-ton Jumbo, as "some onlookers ogled; some giggled with glee." The design is crisp, the story is told with real poetry, and Roca's paintings are rich and warm. Both text and illustrations reflect the grandeur, if not the delightful absurdity, of this historic event. For a lively, more fictionalized account of the event, read Phil Bildner and LeUyen Pham's Twenty-One Elephants (2004). An author's note and short bibliography are appended. Karin Snelson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 800L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; New title edition (September 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061844887X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618448876
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.1 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

When April Jones Prince was in first grade, she decided she wanted to be an archaeologist. "I envisioned myself digging up precious historical artifacts and living in a palace," she says. "Obviously, I didn't know much about the accommodations of archaeologists in the field!" She did know that she was curious about the details of the past--what people did, ate, and wore. "I grew up fascinated by these things. My mom is a costume historian and my dad is practically a walking history book, so maybe it was inevitable."

April was also fascinated by books, ideas, and stories. As a child, she loved reading and being read to. When she grew older, April realized she also loved to write. Even back then, her work had a strong nonfiction bent. "I secretly enjoyed writing research papers in school," she admits. "In college I was a journalism major, and I loved that too. But journalistic writing is so practical--nothing as romantic as being a novelist or poet! Perhaps for that reason, I never really thought of myself as a writer until I began writing for children."

Today, April feels she has found the perfect vocation: writing about history for young people. "I love taking tantalizing people or 'nuggets' from history and weaving them into stories that are exciting and engaging for children," she says. April enjoys both the writing, and the research. "The research stage is exciting and unpredictable. In a way, I guess it's my own kind of archaeology--digging up old documents and visiting the nooks and crannies of historical sites and museums. I certainly experience an archaeologist's thrill of discovery."

April finds a special delight in creating books for young readers. "The books we love as children affect us like no other books we read in our lifetimes--they stay with us and shape us. Plus, they give kids the perfect opportunity to crawl into the lap of someone who loves them and listen to a good story. What could be better?"

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on November 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
It took fourteen years of construction to build the Brooklyn Bridge, connecting Brooklyn and New York - but some wondered how much weight the new bridge could safely handle. One man decided to show them it was strong enough to hold even the heaviest passenger -- and demonstrated this with elephants. The man's name? P.T. Barnum. It reads with the drama of fiction but Twenty-one Elephants And Still Standing is based on fact, which is even more intriguing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Melynda M. Byrnes on December 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best picture books I have read in a long time! The Brooklyn Bridge is completed and skeptics wonder just how long it will stand. P. T. Barnum decides to capitalize on their skepticism and arranges a parade of his elephants across the bridge as they head to Manhattan for their latest migration of the "Greatest Show on Earth."

I teach a class of 25 1st grade students in a 'gifted' classroom and they were riveted throughout the entire story...and so were the two parent volunteers at the back of the room. The vocabulary is extremely rich and advanced and this book provided wonderful enrichment to our study of bridges in a community. One of the best parts of the book was the final 'Author's Note' which described the extensive research that an author must complete to create an effective story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam on August 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I posted this comment for my son. He is seven years old. He loves the book. Below was exactly what he said about the book "Twenty-one Elephants AND STILL STANDING".

"This book is super. I recommend it for every kid. I love the part when Phineas T. Barnum proved, with elephants, that Brooklyn Bridge was safe for people and trains. I have never seen Barnum and his elephants perform in such a fictional story before. I am greatly amazed! April even uses a little rhyming throughout the book! I especially loved the paintings in the book."

Excellent work! You have done a lot to create this book!
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Format: Hardcover
My almost 5 year old brought this book home from the library and it's a gem. The story is enchanting and based on a true story (and downright marketing genius). I particularly enjoyed the author's commentary at the end describing how he researched and came to tell the story. It almost reads as a love story to this bridge, and this city. Rich, mature language and beautiful muted color illustrations. A must read!
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