Friday, May 18, 2018

The Bridge - a graphic novel review

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.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

I am a Cat - a review

I am a Cat
by Galia Bernstein
Abrams, 2018

This is a positively delightful debut picture book that reminds us to celebrate our similarities rather than focus on our differences!

Read this for storytime, or use it as a humorous introduction to a lesson on animal classification. This is definitely one of my new favorites! Watch the video and see for yourself that I am a Cat is a "must-have" picture book.

I can't wait to see what @galiabernstein does next. 😺

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Brightwood - a review

Brightwood
by Tania Unsworth
Algonquin, 2018 (paperback)

I missed this book when it came out in hardcover in 2016, but am I glad that I finally caught up with it.

About to depart for a trip with her family, Caroline noticed that her doll's shoe had fallen off on the dock below. Not realizing that she had gone back to retrieve it, the skipper of the Everlasting pulled away from the dock.

"The photographer's picture had been made large and filled almost the whole of the front page.  There were words above it, written in thick black letters almost as big as Caroline's hand:

TRAGEDY AT SEA—FITZJOHN FAMILY LOST!
The massive explosion yesterday on board the Fitzjohn family yacht is believed to have been caused by engine failure.  There are no survivors."
But, of course, Caroline had survived. Her grandmother had picked her up from the dock and taken her home to Brightwood, the family mansion. Now many years have passed and Caroline lives alone with her daughter, Daisy.  Daisy has never passed through the gates of Brightwood. Why should she? She and her mother have everything they need at Brightwood. 

"Daisy listened as the sound of the car grew fainter and fainter and then disappeared.  She curled back under the covers and closed her eyes.  Wherever she was going, her mum would be back by eleven o'clock. She was never late."
But this time, her mum didn't come back.

Brightwood is a middle-grade thriller with a strong female protagonist and a focus on mental illness. Adventurous readers will love it!


 Read an excerpt from Brightwood here.

My copy of this book was provided by Workman Publishing