Title: Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building
Author: Deborah Hopkinson
Major Themes: Empire State Building, New York City, Great Depression, Skyscrapers, Architecture
Synopsis: Pictures and simple text describe the building of the Empire State Building.
Last month, we read Unbuilding, so Sky Boys was a good picture book to follow it. Unbuilding describes the fictitious dismantling of the Empire State Building in New York City, while Sky Boys depicts its building! Actually, it would have been better to read them in reverse order, but I hadn’t found this one yet!
The Empire State Building was erected during the Great Depression, partly to bring hope to the people. In this story, the main character is a young boy living close to the construction site. He watches the building go up, incredibly fast—four and a half stories a week! After it is completed, he and his father ride the elevator to the top of the tallest building in the world at that time.
The pictures, beautifully detailed paintings, are wonderful. My little boys have asked me to read this book time after time since it arrived in our house; they love the story of how this skyscraper was built. I love the gentle introduction to the Great Depression. Not much is said about it, but enough that you can get a glimpse into the hopelessness and despair of suddenly being unemployed. At the end of the book is a page of facts about the building. Any family with little boys would love it, and I am guessing that little girls would enjoy it as well.
WARNING: “Gee whiz” is used once in the story.
Listening Level—Ages 3 – 4, 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9