Review of Concrete: From the Ground Up

Concrete: From the Ground Up
by Larissa Theule; illus. by Steve Light
Primary    Candlewick    48 pp.    g
9/22    978-1-5362-1250-1    $18.99

Roads, bridges, basketball courts, skyscrapers—so much of our world is made out of concrete, the combination of stone, sand, water, and cement that is our most ubiquitous modern building material. Without getting too bogged down in technical nitty-gritty, Theule presents readers with the fascinating story of concrete, from its ancient nonstructural uses to today’s massive feats of engineering. The brief, clear expository text delivers the information well (as readers learn, for instance, the difference between tensile strength and compressive strength), with additional details provided by conversational, often humorous word balloons from various figures found in the illustrations. Light’s pen, ink, and watercolor art is bright and engaging, with plenty of white space. Occasional double-page spreads convey the magnitude of the giant structures depicted, such as the Roman Colosseum, Three Gorges Dam, and Salginatobel Bridge, all made possible by the invention of reinforced concrete. Bright blues and greens are used throughout, highlighting the environment and providing contrast to the gray and earth-tone structures. Hand this to fans of Macaulay’s building books (such as Castle and Underground). A bibliography is appended.

From the September/October 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter is the school librarian at Fred A. Toomer Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia.

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