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Twenty-One Elephants Hardcover – October 1, 2004
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From School Library Journal
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Top Customer Reviews
When the Brooklyn Bridge was first built in 1884 it was considered to be an architectural marvel by the critics. By the people who'd actually have to travel over it, however, it looked dangerous. For young Hannah, the bridge has been slowly going up her entire life. Now that it is finished, however, Hannah's father considers the structure too flimsy to risk his only daughter on. Determined to convince her papa that it is safe, Hannah appeals first to her immediate family, then her schoolmates, and finally her neighbors. No one can believe that the Brooklyn Bridge is safe, though. In an attempt to cheer his little girl up, Hannah's father takes her to the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Once there, she hatches a plan and gets the attention of Mr. P.T.Read more ›
The author, a middle-school teacher, has spun a captivating story around a historical event-the building of the Brooklyn Bridge in the late 1800s, and the initial hesitation of many residents to trust in it and use it.
Little Hannah's father is one of the doubters. Although Hannah grows up watching the bridge go up, and exhibits ceaseless fascination for the huge structure, her father "always clutched her hand a little tighter and drew in his breath a little deeper whenever she peered out at the modern marvel."
When they attend the circus, the herd of 21 elephants, Jumbo at the lead, gives Hannah an idea. She approaches P.T. Barnum to ask to borrow the elephants, but the great showman has already thought of the idea himself. "Great minds think alike, little lady," he tells Hannah.
The rest, of course, is verifiable history. Jumbo did indeed lead the herd across the Brooklyn Bridge on May 17, 1884, putting to rest doubts about the structure's safety and strength.
Bildner has engineered a deft blending of fiction and fact to construct a tender story, and Pham has illuminated it in golden tones, imparting an old-fashioned feel, and warmth between the doting father and his darling Hannah.
- Rowan, age 7 from Brooklyn, NY
I really liked the book Twenty-One Elephants. I think it was interesting when a young girl asks the circus owner a question to show people that the bridge is safe so people can walk across the bridge. I think Twenty-One Elephants is great for all ages. Also I like the climax when the young girl asked the circus owner her question and you didn't know if he would say yes or no.
- Sebastien, age 8 from Brooklyn, NY