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The Wonderful Towers of Watts (Reading Rainbow Books) Paperback – September 1, 2005


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$9.30 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This true story describes an Italian immigrant who spent 30 years building mosaic-covered spires in the Watts section of Los Angeles; Lessac's art "captures the gaudy beauty of his achievement," said PW, although its fanciful interpretation "carries the book . . . away from history." Ages 5-up.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 3-This simply narrated picture book tells of Italian immigrant Simon Rodia, a self-styled artist who created unique constructions in inner-city Los Angeles. In addition to carting home broken tiles from the factory where he worked, Simon (known in the neighborhood as Old Sam) made a habit of collecting discarded objects that he came across in his travels. His amazing, lacy, intricate towers made from concrete and steel and decorated with bits of tile, glass, mirror, pottery, and seashells were his life's work, taking 33 years to build, and became objects of conversation, speculation, wonder, and delight within the Watts community. After city engineers declared them structurally sound, they became a permananent landmark, to be seen and admired by people from all over the world. Lessac's familiar gouache paintings fill the pages with soft rich colors. The cheerful double-page spreads provide an element of whimsy appropriate to the narrative and the towers themselves. The book can stand on its own, but could also spark an interesting discussion on art and its role in our society.
Corinne Camarata, Port Washington Public Library, NY
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 860L (What's this?)
  • Series: Reading Rainbow Books
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590782550
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590782552
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 8.5 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #740,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on May 30, 2002
Format: Library Binding
"...Old Sam's real name was Simon Rodia. He was a small man who dressed in ragged overalls, a shirt with the sleeves cut off, and a greasy hat. His arms and face were always covered with dust..." So begins Patricia Zelver's fascinating and engaging true story of an Italian immigrant, with no formal engineering or architectural training, who over a thirty-three year period constructed the Watts Towers in his backyard. Sam lived in a poor neighborhood called Watts, on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Over the years he collected all kinds of things other people threw away...broken bottles and tiles, pieces of mirrors and other glass, seashells and bits of pottery. He spent most of his money on cement, sand, and steel. Neighbors could hear him working behind his tall fence, and wondered what Sam was doing with all that junk. "One day, to the neighbors' amazement, something strange and beautiful rose up over the fence in Sam's backyard..." Ms Zelver's simple and straightforward text is captivating, and complemented by Frane Lessac's bold, bright, and magical artwork, done in an almost childlike style. Excitement builds with each page turn as the Towers grow taller, more intricate and beautiful. Perfect for youngsters 5-10, The Wonderful Towers Of Watts is an evocative treasure that is sure to inspire readers, pique their interest, and send them out looking for more. As Ms Zelver tells us at the end of the story..."Watts is still a poor part of Los Angeles. But no other place has the Watts Towers. Every year people come from all over the world to marvel at Old Sam's crazy dream."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By wakeningdreamer on February 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
thanks to oscar wilde for the above quote & paticia zelver for the book that brings it to life!
i grew up with reading rainbow & still watch it whenever i get the chance ~ i don't believe we ever truly outgrow enjoying being read a wonderful tale, and this book will give you a tale worth telling. it has a powerful & positive message & even better is that it's true! i've used it in classes to spur students into researching different topics, and everyone i've shared it with (regardless of age or ability) has been glad i did.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Christopher A. Thomas on April 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've been checking this out from my public library for the past two years to read to my 1st grade class. The library lost it so now I'll gladly buy it! It incorporates well into my "Earth Day" unit because we concentrate on recycling. It also is a really inspirational story.
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By Ulyyf on July 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a direct, straight-forward book about, as the title says, the Watts Towers.

It doesn't condescend to the reader (or listener). The story is told without any cloying sweetness, and without any enforced sympathy.

I can't say how refreshing this treatment can be :)
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