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
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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 SnelsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved