Concrete: From the Ground Up by Larissa Theule, illustrated by Steve Light

Published by Candlewick

Summary:  We may not think much about concrete (I know I don’t), but it’s an amazing material that has allowed engineers to design some pretty spectacular structures beginning with the Roman Colosseum and Pantheon.  The technology was lost for centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, but an engineer named John Smeaton rediscovered it to construct a lighthouse in 1757.  Since then, engineers have learned how to reinforce concrete with steel that has allowed them to build bridges, dams, and skyscrapers.  The final page asks the question of what may come next for concrete as the needs of humans and the planet change in the future.  48 pages; grades 2-5.

Pros:  Answers the question “How could concrete possibly be interesting?” with engaging stories of different structures around the world and incredibly detailed drawings that feature various characters making funny comments about their circumstances and inventions.  Fans of David Macaulay books will enjoy poring over the details.  Amazon has this listed as part of a series called Material Marvels, so I am hoping there will be more books to come.

Cons:  Many readers may see the cover and think, “How could concrete possibly be interesting?”

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