STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books


The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York

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The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York

by Peter J. Tomasi
Illustrated by Sara DuVall
Abrams Comic Arts, 2018

If you’ve never watched the Ken Burns documentary, “Brooklyn Bridge,” you may not fully grasp the truly marvel qualities of the Brooklyn Bridge.  Besides being an engineering masterpiece, it is an architectural beauty, and the result of a heroic and lengthy commitment by the Roebling family and countless workers.  The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York is the true story in graphic format of the epic task of building the bridge.

The book begins in 1852, when the bridge was just a dream in the mind of John Augustus Roebling and his son Washington.  Washington Roebling’s father was a non-nonsense man, who doled out praise sparingly, but had great faith in his son. In 1862, after designing the bridge and receiving approval for its construction, John Augustus Roebling died and the young Washington Roebling became the chief engineer—a job that he eventually shared with his wife, Emily, after he contracted what was then an unknown disease.

Peter J. Tomasi tells this heroic story with little need for explanatory text, employing artistic license to recreate dialogue that rings true and gives a real feel for the political and personal dramas that unfolded throughout the fourteen years that passed during the bridge’s construction.  This is not an entirely personal story however, Tomasi includes ample description of the actual engineering of the bridge—a process with many failures and tragedies on the road to eventual success.

This is Sara DuVall’s first graphic novel and the style is simple and appealing.  The colors are bright and engaging, but background details are minimal, allowing the reader to focus on the expressions, the emotions, and the individual episodes that tie this epic story together.

The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York is well researched and accurately captures in graphic format this engineering marvel and the personal triumphs and sorrows associated with it.

See a slide show of images from The Bridge at Abrams Books.

Enjoy these actual photos from the New York Public Library’s digital collection.

“View of Manhattan waterfront and Brooklyn Bridge under construction; temporary footbridge ”
The New York Public Library Digital Collections.
1877

Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy,
The New York Public Library. “View of Manhattan waterfront and Brooklyn Bridge under construction; temporary footbridge ”
New York Public Library Digital Collections.
Accessed May 18, 2018.
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/75c1c390-9f35-0132-e3a4-58d385a7b928

 

View of Manhattan from Brooklyn; men working on bridge cables; Fulton ferry boat “Hamilton”; sailboats, 1885

Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History,
Local History and Genealogy,
The New York Public Library. “View of Manhattan from Brooklyn; men
working on bridge cables; Fulton ferry boat “Hamilton”; sailboats”
New York Public Library Digital Collections.
Accessed May 18, 2018.

http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/7c0ce5f0-9dc2-0132-d343-58d385a7bbd0

“Pedestrians on the Promenade (copy of #23:7)”
The New York Public Library Digital Collections.
1895.

Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy,
The New York Public Library. “Pedestrians on the Promenade (copy of #23:7)”
New York Public Library Digital Collections.
Accessed May 18, 2018.
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/bfc671e0-9f3a-0132-96cc-58d385a7bbd0

Note: My copy of The Bridge was provided by the publisher.

 

See all my reviews at Shelf-employed.

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

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Rocket Shoes Fiction Inspires STEAM Activities

Generally we feature nonfiction books here at STEM Friday, but that doesn’t mean a good fiction picture book can’t be used to promote STEM.

Take Rocket Shoes by Sharon Skinner and illustrated by Ward Jenkins.

José works hard to buy a pair of special rocket shoes. They are a blast. His neighbor thinks they are too dangerous, however, and talks the mayor into banning them. When the same neighbor gets into trouble during a snow storm, will José break the rules and put on his shoes to save the day?

This book has it all. It features diverse characters, text full of action verbs and catchy rhymes, just the right touch of humor, plus readers learn about conflict resolution in a lighthearted way (not at all pedantic). What more could you ask for?

How about plenty of potential to tie-in STEAM activities?  Check out Wrapped in Foil blog for suggestions for just a few of the many STEAM activities that could be inspired by the book. It is sure to fire up a child’s imagination.

Rocket Shoes is such a fun book that it will fly off the bookshelf. Share a copy with a young reader today!


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Mr. Ferris and His Wheel

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Mr. Ferris and his Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis, Illustrated by Gilbert Ford (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014)

Though written in a fully illustrated, engaging and narrative nonfiction style,  Mr. Ferris and his Wheel is nevertheless, a well-sourced and researched picture book for older readers.

The story of the 1863, Chicago World’s Fair debut of the world’s first Ferris wheel (or Monster Wheel, as Mr. Ferris originally named it),  is told in a flowing and entertaining style,

     George arrived in Chicago and made his case to the construction chief of the fair.

     The chief stared at George’s drawings.  No one had ever created a fair attraction that huge and complicated.  The chief told George that his structure was “so flimsy it would collapse.”

     George had heard enough.  He rolled up his drawings and said, “You are an architect, sir. I am an engineer.”

     George knew something the chief did not.  His invention would be delicate-looking and strong.  It would be both stronger and lighter than the Eiffel Tower because it would be built with an amazing new metal—steel.

and

it contains sidebars that impart more technical information that might otherwise interrupt the flow of the story,

George was a steel expert, and his structure would be made of a steel alloy.  Alloys combine a super-strong mix of a hard metal with two or more chemical elements.

George Ferris’ determination is a story in itself, but it is the engineering genius of his wheel that steals the show.  A “must-have” for any school or public library.

Some facts about the original “Ferris” wheel:

  • 834′ in circumference
  • 265′ above the ground
  • 3,000 electric lightbulbs (this itself was a marvel in 1893!)
  • forty velvet seats per car

Ferris wheel at the Chicago World’s Fair c1893. Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

See all of my reviews at Shelf-employed.

STEM Friday

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

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