Book Review: Skyscraper

Reading Level

Ages 4-8

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Think you know all of what goes into building skyscraper? You might want to think again, and you might want to pick this book up to help you learn.

This book, from Alfred A. Knopf, is an excellent depiction of the construction of a skyscraper, from the conception stage to the ribbon-cutting final stages. The author (and photographer Michael J. Doolittle, whose images are up-close and personal and as real as they get,) take you the reader step-by-step through the building of a very tall building. You read what the architect says about how long it takes just to get plans approved. You read what construction workers say about how rewarding their job is. You read what safety experts have to say about how best to build something so tall.

The book follows the construction of the Random House building in New York City. One of the challenges that the architects faced was how to fit so many offices in so small a space. The result is a very tall building that looks exactly like three books held in place by bookends.

The book is filled with wonderful offbeat facts and asides as well, giving you the reader the idea that you're actually in the same room with these men and women, hearing them discuss their trades. For instance, one mason has this to say: "When you're pouring all day, concrete builds up on your pants and boots—maybe ten pounds' worth. You change to go home and you've got a new spring in your step."

The photos alone—from atop a skyscraper in New York—are worth a look, or two, or three.

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Social Studies for Kids
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David White