Friday, November 18, 2022

Today's read... Concrete From the Ground Up by Larissa Theule

It's time for some nonfiction and that in the rare area of architecture! Yep, I get excited about these types of books because they are often overlooked in the kidlit world. This one centers around...well, it you can't guess from the title, then I don't know what to say.  

by Larissa Theule
Illustrated by Steve Light
Candlewick Press
Picture Book / Nonfiction
48 pages
ages 7 to 10

A stylish, eye-opening, utterly engaging, and often wry look at one of the marvels of the material world, from the ground up.

From a lowly mixture of stone, sand, water, and cement have sprung sidewalks, streets, and skyscrapers, sturdy lighthouses and magnificent palaces, long bridges and massive dams. In ancient building practices, in modern engineering, and in the architecture of the future, humble concrete plays a mighty role in the creation of the human-made world. Brimming with facts and spiced with clever running narrative in the form of repartee-filled speech bubbles, Concrete is as intimate and entertaining as it is informative and visually sweeping. Curious readers of all ages—from would-be engineers to science and history buffs to retro-design lovers—will delight in this bold, one-of-a-kind guide to the (literal) bedrock of civilization, amplified by a bibliography in the back matter.



Taking a largely forgotten (and maybe, seemingly boring topic), these pages show how amazing concrete is while also taking the reader on an intriguing ride into history.

The first question addressed in these pages circles around the definition of concrete, cement, and other similar terms, and while doing this, it is anything but mundane. After the basics are established, it's a zoom back into history to explain how concrete has been used through time (or similar compounds), starting way back in ancient cultures. From here, the reader visits the various points in architectural history, where forms of concrete were used, what their purpose was, and how it became what it is today. 

While this is a book for slightly older readers (ages 7 to 10), it brings across the material in a well-laid out, easy-to-understand fashion. Step-by-step the reader dives into the topic...and that while keep the material from growing dry. The illustrations make every situation visually clear and are enjoyable, too. Many of the illustrations contain speech bubbles where more information is presented or broken-down in a fun, conversational form. The vocabulary is kept fairly light so that the terminology doesn't bog down. By the end of this, readers will have a thorough understanding of what concrete is, how it's changed through-out history, and what uses it has. 

I do see this one as great for homeschoolers, classrooms, or even those kids, who are interested in the world around them.

And here they are...

Larissa Theule is the author of several picture books for children, including Kafka and the Doll, illustrated by Rebecca Green, and A Way with Wild Things, illustrated by Sara Palacios. She holds an MEd from Gordon College and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and currently lives in Southern California.

Steve Light is the author-illustrator of many acclaimed books for children, including the picture books Have You Seen My Dragon? and Have You Seen My Monster? and the board books Black Bird Yellow Sun; Mama Tiger, Tiger Cub; and Up Cat Down Cat. Steve Light lives in New York City with his wife.

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