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Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  273 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
This Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book and ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Book provides a riveting brick-by-brick account of how one of the most amazing accomplishments in American architecture came to be. It’s 1930 and times are tough for Pop and his son. But look! On the corner of 34th Street and 5th Avenue, a building straight and simple as a pencil is being built in recor ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published February 28th 2006 by Schwartz & Wade (first published January 4th 2004)
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Oct 30, 2009 Valerie rated it really liked it
Told from the the perspective of a young boy, as he watches the "world's most famous building (The Empire State building) take miraculous shape before his eyes,' readers experience every stage of the building process from clearing the area of debris, to sixty thousand tons of steel arriving on the "backs of rumbling flatbed trucks" to form the structure, watching the men "high overhead [as:] they crawl like spiders on steel, spinning their giant web in the sky, and the teamwork of these
Mar 04, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical-fic
In Sky Boys, the historical building of the Empire State building is chronicled in free verse through a young boys eyes. The reader meets the young boy, scrounging for wood around the city. Pop's lost his job and times are tough. But there is hope in the form of a dream: a soaring tower which, once built, will be a beacon of hope in desperate times. Men line up to help each day. The reader learns how, steel column by steel column, the magnificent building goes up! At last, it is open and the boy ...more
Apr 06, 2009 Chak rated it really liked it
Shelves: kid
I really don't like books written in the second person, but that didn't seem to bother my son when I was reading him this book. He's a skyscraper freak, and don't even get me started on our lengthy conversations about Taipei 101 or Burj al-Arab vs. Burj Dubai, ok? Therefore, he easily got past the voice and the side-story of the hardscrabble times of the Great Depression and focused on the over-arching story of the building of the Empire State Building. The book has some fun statistics and inter ...more
Oct 05, 2009 Kara rated it really liked it
Shelves: pbgs-art
The end pages of this book is really cool because it is actual pictures of the guys who built the Empire State Building, before the book goes in detail and explains how they built it. The pictures in the book are made with acrylics in a realism fashion. The arrangement of pictures and space is different on each page, as some are positive space with positive shape and others are negative space with positive shape. The pictures also have a horizontal line, to make the pictures look longer, as the ...more
Ethelen V.
Mar 10, 2014 Ethelen V. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: etl2368
Hopkinson, D., & Ransome, J. (2006). Sky boys : how they built the Empire State Building. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books.

This story told from the perspective of a young boy. The story takes place during the Great Depression. The Great Depression was a time of hardship, sacrifice, and most of depression. However, during this time, something great was happening! The Empire State Building was being built. A young boy and his dad watch as this magnificent building is going up. When it is f
Sky Boys tells the story of the thrilling, dangerous work in building The Empire State Building. As New Yorkers desperately try to find work during The Great Depression, they are truly amazed by the massive undertaking. This story is told in simple terms so that the youngest child can envision the daring steps it took to erect the building.

Jaclyn Kruljac
Mar 12, 2015 Jaclyn Kruljac rated it really liked it
This book is told through the perspective of a young boy during the time of the Great Depression and the book is written in free verse. It begins with the boy walking down the street and coming across a building that was torn down and it takes the reader through the struggles and dangers of constructing the sky scrapper The Empire State Building. It discusses how people were looking for jobs during this time and signed up to construct the building.

This would be a good book to use to teach the g
Jan 19, 2015 Lana rated it liked it
I read this with one of my 4th grade guided reading groups. I like the story and illustrations (they are gorgeous), but I had to give them a lot of information first. We live near Chicago, so they know the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower, which is what they call it, but it will always be the Sears Tower to me) is one of the tallest buildings in the world, but that still wasn't enough comparison for them. I spent a couple of group times showing them videos and pictures of the Empire State Building ...more
Cole Hoffman
Oct 02, 2014 Cole Hoffman rated it really liked it
The construction of the Empire State Building was an extremely amazing feat. The Idea of have men just standing hundreds of feat in the air with nothing keeping them on the steel beam but their balance. This story describes the building from a child's point of view looking up at the construction throughout the entire year that it was being built. There are real life facts on the building and drawings showing the advancement of the construction.

The illustrations are extremely processional becaus
Jim Erekson
Apr 23, 2013 Jim Erekson rated it it was ok
The information was good, and the illustrations impeccable. I felt like these illustrations were a very good replacement for the photographs we might expect. Hopkinson cites in the sources a good photography collection by Hine, and used on the end sheets. Ransome's illustration style is just right, using just enough impressionism to avoid photorealism but also giving us a clear representational look at the building process. Point of view makes these paintings interesting, allowing for complex an ...more
Angela Hutchinson
This book is about how the Empire State Building was constructed and the men who erected it. The Empire State Building was being constructed during the Great Depression and became the tallest building standing on March 18, 1931. I liked how this book gives its readers basic step-by-step instructions and illustrations of the building being put together. It reminds me of building with Legos. This book is informational and gives many facts about the building and how the men lived, ate, and waited o ...more
Ruqayya Jarad
Jun 29, 2015 Ruqayya Jarad rated it it was amazing
Shelves: eled-413
It is a diary of the construction of the famous building through the eyes of a young boy. It shows the most amazing thing about the Empire State Building and how is quickly it was completed in almost over one year. It shows various workers involved in building this huge structure and the Depression Era as men working on the building, there was always a line of men waiting to take their places. It is an amazing story to read aloud. Age 4-9
McKinzie Elton
I would read this book during a unit on The Great Depression. Before reading the book, I would show the students a photo of the Empire State Building and ask them what they know about the building. We could watch the following video, as well: I would tell the students we are going to read a story about how the Empire State Building was built.
Ms Threlkeld
Feb 28, 2015 Ms Threlkeld rated it really liked it
The beautiful writing pairs perfectly with expressive painted illustrations to tell the story of the men who built one of the world's most iconic buildings, the Empire State Building. This would make a good read aloud for upper elementary students, especially for teachers/librarians who want to focus on high-quality nonfiction text.
Nov 16, 2014 Heila rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s
I really enjoy getting history through children's books and I learned a lot about the time period and the fascinating building of the Empire State Building through reading this one. Expressive illustrations that highlight the ... height of this building, made largely by hand and inspired by the shape of a pencil.
Meygan Cox
May 29, 2016 Meygan Cox rated it it was ok
I like the information and the illustrations, but I do not like the author's writing style in this book. I felt like it was trying to be a rhyming book but failed. I would have to practice reading this before I read it during storytime due to the fact that the rhyming feels forced and doesn't flow.
Apr 02, 2014 Leslie rated it really liked it
Unique, narrative nonfiction about the building of the Empire State Building. Hopkinson weaves interesting facts with the story of a young boy watching the tallest building in the world being built. The endpapers are amazing photographs of the actual "sky boys" doing their jobs high above NYC.
Oct 11, 2009 earthy rated it it was ok
Told in an unusual second-person narrative, a young boy living in Manhattan during the Depression watches with his father as the Empire State Building is built. Thick, colorful oils portray the Empire State Building, the men working on it, and the city dwellers watching from below. End papers include photographs of the actual workers and their death-defying work high above the city. Though the story is fictional, the basic facts of the building project—how long it took, how many people were invo ...more
Nov 05, 2013 Annalise rated it liked it
This story tells of the building of the Empire State Building. A young boy narrates the building of this famous landmark. Readers get a sense of the hope that this building brought to the people during some of the hardest times during the Great Depression. The author gives real statistics about the men that worked on the building and how they worked to create the tallest building, at that time. The story is simply told, but the illustrations add much more to the story. They really depict the emo ...more
NS-Christine Johnson
Nov 08, 2009 NS-Christine Johnson rated it really liked it
It took sixty thousand tons of steel, ten million bricks, two thousand tons of marble, and much more to finish the Empire State Building. This is the story of how this world famous building was completed during the Great Depression. At the time, it was the world's tallest building. The story is told from the perspective of a little boy who admires the "sky boys" working high up over the city of Manhattan. He talks about how "each man works as fast as he can, knowing that down below a hundred job ...more
In the middle of the Great Depression, more than 3,000 men put in seven million hours over the course of 410 days to build the pride of New York City, the Empire State Building. The story of that achievement is told in “you are there” fashion through the eyes of a young boy watching the steel giant’s construction from the ground up. Ransome’s oil paintings, some quite intricate, carry the narrative nicely along and show the building from different perspectives. One particularly fine spread featu ...more
A nice picture book that describes the building of the Empire State Building. A fictional account, but based on the actual events. Photos from the time period are included at the end.
Sky Boys tells the majestic story of the building of the Empire State Building through the eyes of a young boy and his father.

The oil paintings and poetic text gives a feeling of epic grandeur. But the second person in the beginning was something I was not expecting. It does a good job of giving context clues for new vocabulary - like derrick the lifting tower thing. (Is where the boy's name comes from?!)

The facts about the riveting team were fascinating and could really hook that kid that love
Yasmin Gomez Geng
Mar 17, 2016 Yasmin Gomez Geng rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
It's the Great Depression, and a little boy goes out looking for wood to earn money for his family since his dad lost his job. All of a sudden, he sees many workers, getting ready to construct the tallest building!

The book walks the reader through all of the steps that it took to construct the building. How trucks with steel show up. The setting of those steel pieces into the concrete and ground. The addition of the windows and mast. There are also lots of numbers of steps, height, and time that
Feb 24, 2016 Jill rated it really liked it
Great book--taught me something I didn't know, even though I went on a tour of NYC that included the Empire State Building.
Apr 17, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
This is a great choice for use by students for research. The text is enhanced by the endnotes and source listings.
Nov 21, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
Beautiful book, with gorgeous illustrations that add significance to the slightly challenging text.
Apr 25, 2015 Matthew rated it it was amazing
This book outlines the time and the work of the construction of the Empire State Building, as told from the perspective of a child who lives in the neighborhood. It describes the depression-era conditions that drove the work to be completed so quickly and what it was like to travel to the top of the Empire State Building and observe the city far below when it was first opened. It's a really well-done book and I was a huge fan. I'd gladly share this book as a piece of historical fiction. Highly r ...more
How long do you think it would take to build a 102-story skyscraper start to finish in the middle of Manhattan in 2010? Two years? Three? What if the year is 1931, during the height of the Great Depression in the U.S. and the building in question is the Empire State Building--destined to be the tallest building in the world once it's completed? Now how long do you think the construction would take? I'm not going to tell you (I don't want to ruin the surprise) but the construction of this America ...more
Ted Kesler
Mar 16, 2015 Ted Kesler rated it it was amazing
I learned so much about how the Empire State Building was constructed.
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I write picture books, nonfiction, and middle grade fiction. I love history and visiting schools to talk to young readers.

TITANIC: VOICES FROM THE DISASTER was named a 2013 Sibert Honor Book and a 2013 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist. My most recent nonfiction title, COURAGE & DEFIANCE, Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in WWII Denmark,was named an Orbis Pictus Recommended Bo
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