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Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building

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3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  301 Ratings  ·  83 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Amy
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
Valerie
Oct 30, 2009 Valerie rated it really liked it
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
Chak
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
Kara
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
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.

Alex
Dec 07, 2016 Alex rated it really liked it
1. None
2. First grade through second grade
3. The story of the building of the Empire State Building, as told through the eyes of a young boy whose father helps build it. He talks about all the work that it going into it as it grows taller and taller until it is finally finished. He and his father take an elevator trip all of the way to the top, and don’t come back down until it’s dark out, when they can still see the building light up the night as they walk home.
4. The Empire State building is i
...more
Jenn Adams
A lot of people in my class didn't like this book, and did bring up several valid issues with it. However, I really liked it and I think I would have enjoyed it a lot as a child as well. Urban history and things like that have always appealed to me
Kelly Risinger
impressive photos of amazing build during the great depression
Chad VanDosen
Sep 16, 2016 Chad VanDosen rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
I enjoyed this book and my students will as well. If I ever teach about American history I could use this book as a part of the curriculum. It has many great things that it teaches you about how big the Empire State Building is and how amazing it was to have a building of that magnitude in the middle of economic poverty. I would have this book in my classroom if I taught older grades.
Ethelen V.
Aug 13, 2016 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
...more
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
Annalise
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
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
...more
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
...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
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
earthy
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
Lana
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
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
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
...more
Marcia
Oct 15, 2012 Marcia rated it really liked it
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
Matthew
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
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
Marybeth
This historical fiction picture book tells the story of a boy who watches the Empire State Building being built. The artwork is mesmerizing, but there are also black and white photos from the Empire State Building archives.

It's an excellent introduction to a study of the Great Depression, the American Dream or the history and culture of New York. It could also be used to introduce the concept of construction or innovation. I would definitely use it prior to a field trip, too!

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
Denise
Jun 13, 2010 Denise rated it really liked it
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.
Espen Lyshek
Nov 13, 2012 Espen Lyshek rated it it was ok
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
Jennifer
Oct 04, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it
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.
Laura
Oct 07, 2012 Laura rated it liked it
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.
NS Kelley
Nov 05, 2009 NS Kelley rated it really liked it
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.
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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. 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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