Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building
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Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building

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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  195 ratings  ·  56 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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Valerie
Summary:
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...more
Amy
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
Chak
Apr 06, 2009 Chak rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Kara
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.
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...more
Jackie
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.

Jim Erekson
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
Leslie
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.
earthy
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
RLL52013_AnnaliseCaudill
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
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
babyhippoface
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
Jennifer
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.
Lizzie
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...more
Fiona
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
Marcia
The construction of the Empire State Building is captured in gorgeous detail in this fascinating picture book. James Ransome's acrylic paintings capture the Depression era, and the writing is crisp, yet filled will factual content. Seen through a little boy's eyes, we experience the drama and amazement of the (then) world's tallest building and the opportunity and hope it brought to the men who worked so high up above the city. The author's note adds details and the Lewis Hine's photos in the en...more
Kaye
esbnyc.com more infor on the Empire state building.

This is a story of the building of the tallest building in the world, that gave jobs to hundreds of men during the depression and more after the skin of the building was complete. A young boy watches the building and tells the facts about oww the men's actual jobs from the heater, the catcher the bucker-up man and the gunman. A fascinating tale. Check out the actual footage of the building of the Chrysler Blding the year before on utube.
Espen Lyshek
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...more
Jayro Giron
The Empire State Building wasn't built in a day and it took many, many people to build it. This fun book details the making of that building through the use of rhythmic poetry. The illustrations help tell more of the story than the actual words do. The colors in the images pop out and often those images are structured in a chronological comic-book order to facilitate the building experience to children. It is a great book to use not for a history lesson, but also in a unit involving poetry.
NS Kelley
This story takes place during the depression. A young boy and his father, who is currently unemployed, learn about plans of how this building will be built. They go and visit frequently and look at the rising tower as a symbol of hope and better times ahead. The story is told from the young boys perspective and in a present day tone. The illustrations are beautiful and help bring the story to life. I think this book would be most appropriate for younger elementary aged students.
Jennifer
The author of Sky Boys has done a fantastic job of not only writing this book in the second person narrative but also uses a poetic free-verse style. It is a good book to introduce some poetry in an unexpected and unobtrusive way. Beautiful painted illustrations depict the building of the Empire State Building and the men who helped achieve it. My 8 yr old has been obsessed with building replicas of the Empire State Building out of Legos since we read it.
Marcie
Mar 03, 2011 Marcie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Marcie by: Temple Text
Could use this to teach if just for the endpaper photographs and the front disclaimer "We have made every effort to trace the ownership of copyrighted materials in this book and to secure permission from copyright holders. In the event of any question arising as to the use of any material, we will be pleased to make the necessary corrections in future printings." I love the descriptions as assembly line construction and the page that explains the rivets.
Laura
A young boy and his father marvel over the building of New York's Empire State building during the Great Depression. Hopkinson describes the workers and the impressive speed with which the building was constructed.

Kids who are interested in buildings, architecture, or New York City should find this an interesting read. Recommended for second and third grade, though it could be used as an effective teaching text for older or younger students.
Denise
This book is a visual feast. Not only are the illustrations amazing, ( I actually felt dizzy looking at them), but Hopkinson's words form amazing mental pictures as well. For example, "First come rumbling flatbed trucks, bundles of steel on their backs, like a gleaming endless river surging through the concrete canyons of Manhattan.

Every page of this book is a gift, and hopefully many readers will choose to unwrap it.
Christy
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
Jennie Smith
I love when I find a good picture book that tells a fascinating history story! The Empire State Building is one of my favorites and sharing its history with my children in a way they could understand was great. They were fascinated by the Sky Boys and it made it even more real when they saw the actual pictures of the Sky Boys on the inside covers. Great book!!
Jessica Bennett
This book was not very informational but it was a cute story. The illustrations give a good visual aid of how the construction was done and the amazing growth of the building. The last page does offer some more information about how the Empire State Building was made but not as much as an informational book should have.
Malissa
I didn't like the second person point of view that was chosen for this book. Not sure the purpose it serves. I enjoyed how the author wove in the facts and details about the building and clearly explained the dangerous jobs. You could pair this book with The Babe and I by Adler or Pop's Bridge by Eve Bunting.
Susannah Goldstein
I thought this was fine. The pictures were great, the idea of a second-person narrator was good, and the information was clear-- but for some reason it didn't really come together for me. I'm not quite sure why. But it is a good source of information for the Empire State Building.
Joan
Great historical fiction and realistic pictures make the reader feel part of the rising of a great building that still stands today. To see this event through the eyes of a young boy and his struggling dad makes it that much more meaningful.
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14256
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. Annie and Helen was a finalist for a 2013 Oregon Book Award.

My most recent books are KNIT YOUR BIT, a World War I story, a historical fiction picture book s...more
More about Deborah Hopkinson...
Titanic: Voices From the Disaster Dear America, Hear My Sorrow: The Diary of Angela Denoto, a Shirtwaist Worker, New York City 1909 (Dear America Series) Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall, Thin Tale (Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend)

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