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Monument Maker: Daniel Chester French and the Lincoln Memorial
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Monument Maker: Daniel Chester French and the Lincoln Memorial

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  115 ratings  ·  46 reviews
This is the story of how a farmboy became America’s foremost sculptor. After failing at academics, Dan was working the family farm when he idly carved a turnip into a frog and discovered what he was meant to do. Sweeney’s swift prose and Fields’s evocative illustrations capture the single-minded determination with which Dan taught himself to sculpt and launched his career ...more
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by Tilbury House Publishers
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Average rating 4.31  · 
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 ·  115 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Start your review of Monument Maker: Daniel Chester French and the Lincoln Memorial
Having a childlike sense of wonder is a double-edged sword. In my capacity as a reviewer of children’s books who left behind her kid years decades and decades ago, I pride myself on how well I can tap into my younger self when I read a book for that age range. But while it’s all well and good to cultivate a sense of childish wonder, being “childish” is the flip side of the coin. Take Monument Maker. Note the shiny Junior Library Guild “Gold Standard” stamp on the cover. Note the excellent review ...more
Brenda Kahn
Just seeing the title some months back made me put the book on my list to order and then my budget was frozen:-( Our eighth graders spend three days in DC as many schools do. As preparation for the trip, they have to create a tour guide containing information about the various sights in the city. I thought it might be a fun addition to my sixth grade picture book biography unit as well. Engaging and informative with wonderful illustrations and terrific back matter.
Kate Willis
May 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up from the library, forgot completely about it, and then was quarantined with it and decided I should give it a try. ;) Very interesting illustrations and informative text, though it's likely a little on the complicated side for the youngest readers. ...more
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love the Lincoln Memorial. I love the walk up to it beside the Reflecting Pool. I love the pearly steps and the magnitude. I love looking out from the top, seeing the Washington Monument, a full panorama of the National Mall, and the Capitol beyond. It's one of my favorite destinations in D.C. Yet until this book, I had never heard of Daniel Chester French, the man who made Lincoln larger than life.

At first, I was surprised by the book's heft. Surely it wouldn't take 60+ pages to describe how
Laura Gardner
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Daniel Chester French designed many monuments in his lifetime, including the iconic Lincoln Memorial. This book chronicles the life of the artist. Born to a family of lawyers, Daniel had to chart his own path when it became obvious he was interested in something different. His connection to Lincoln and artistic process in creating the sculpture is explored in depth. Daniel was only fourteen years old when Lincoln was assassinated and it loomed large in his memory. Beautiful black and white illus ...more
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
I found this book on the 2020 list of Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People. This book was named 2020 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year. I read this digitally on Epic and was able to see the illustrations very well.

This book tells the story of Dan French who was the sculptor that created the Lincoln Memorial. The book starts with Dan as a small child and how he struggles to find what he wants to do growing up. When he finally discovers his love for art and sculpting he
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! The illustrations are so beautiful. Such an interesting topic. I’m impressed.
While the cover of this book might not attract young readers due to its lack of color as is the case for the drawings inside, created painstakingly with ink pens, they really work well for this story of a man who sculpted various shapes and was responsible for the Lincoln Memorial. While young eyes might long for color, it really wouldn't work for this particular story describing the evolution of Daniel Chester French from a boy growing up on a farm in New Hampshire to a young man learning how t ...more
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very impressive information. I really enjoyed not only the completeness of the story (without getting the juvenile reader bogged down with unnecessary information), but the illustrations were fantastic.
Erin Buhr
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Lincoln Memorial is one of my favorites. There is no escaping the larger than life awe that it inspires, yet I had never thought much about Daniel Chester French or how this masterpiece was created before this book. Hefty, I believe, is the best way to describe this biography. It is a thick picture book and although the information is fascinating to a history buff this is not a book to pull out at your average story hour or bedtime. That being said, for a kid who is interested in history, so ...more
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Monument Maker: Daniel Chester French and the Lincoln Memorial by Linda Booth Sweeney, illustrated by Shawn Fields. 64 pages. NON-FICTION/ PICTURE BOOK Tilbury House Publishers, 2019. $20. 9780884486435



Daniel grew up among lawyers and judges, but when he tried to go to school he had trouble with his math subjects and found himself working on the family farm. One day, Dan found a funny looking turnip and decided to carve it into a frog
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Large Picture book biography of Daniel Chester French who sculpted the Lincoln memorial. Beautifully illustrated, nicely paced telling of Daniels biography. Well researched and chronicled. Recommend reading this for all age groups. While there is an interesting, lesser known biography of a personality captured here, it also tells of a personality who struggled in school until he found his calling through art and sculpture. Would be a great introduction for children who are looking for different ...more
Sandy Brehl
The Lincoln Memorial may be the most iconic of the MANY iconic monuments in Washington, D. C. When a commitment was made to create the monument, decision-makers at the highest levels shared the responsibility to find exactly the right person to execute the statue of Lincoln. This oversized, extra-long picture book is a masterful creation that rises to the levels of excellence that were expected of the sculptor, the architects, and the other artists who contributed to this timeless memorial. Both ...more
Martha Trzepacz
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book, a real gem about an important part of American history. This is truly an American story. Follow Daniel French's path from farm boy to famous sculptor. This remarkable American really deserves more attention. Unfortunately, if the book remains in the children's section few adults will read it. The illustrations and information at the end really beg for future reading. Don't miss this one ...more
Dec 25, 2020 added it
This is terrific book! I first saw it listed on a Goodreads review and I've been waiting impatiently for it to become available on my public library's inter library loan service.It was so worth the wait and it is really sad that more libraries in my system haven't purchased this.

So many of us have been fortunate enough to visit the Lincoln Memorial and be awed by the moving sculpture of Lincoln. But how many of us know anything about either the sculptor or the other extraordinary artists who cre
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: t, 2020t
Mom's Review
Monument Maker came through our house because of the Cybils Awards. Had I not been a judge, I would have passed it over. The cover is grey and shows the Lincoln Memorial – not particularly eye-catching or exciting. I would have glanced at it and thought, "Huh. Don't really want to read about the Lincoln Memorial." And that would have been a mistake.

Monument Maker isn't a story about the Lincoln Memorial itself, but about the man who designed it. One really ought to read subtitles. D
With Shawn Fields' marvelous pen and ink sketches, Linda Booth Sweeney tells this story of a boy who grew up on a farm, then small towns in Massachusetts who became a famous sculptor whose work can be found in many places, foremost in our capitol. He didn't do well in school, loved being out in nature observing and drawing birds. The story shares that one time he carved a turnip into a frog and his parents noticed his talent as he discovered what he was going to do in his life. He did different ...more
Ben Truong
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Monument Maker: Daniel Chester French and the Lincoln Memorial is a children's picture book written by Linda Booth Sweeney and illustrated by Shawn Fields. It chronicles the story of Bessie Daniel Chester French – the sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial.

Daniel Chester French, one of the most prolific and acclaimed American sculptors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is best known for his design of the monumental statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC.

Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book hooked me with its opening lines: "History shapes our lives. And
what we do with our lives can shape history." When I visited Washington DC, I had only a few precious minutes to spend admiring the larger-than-life Lincoln Memorial. But it moved me. And learning about its creator in Sweeney's thoughtful book moved me, too. Kids (and adults) will sympathize with Daniel Chester French. As a child and young adult, Dan liked making things beautiful. But he didn't enjoy school and he didn't w
Stephanie Bange
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic add for arts programs

informational picture book about Daniel Chester French, the sculptor of the iconic statue of Abraham Lincoln that sits in the Lincoln Memorial and many others around the United States.

Sweeney's text reads like a story, very casual, yet informative. The reader will come away from this feeling like they know the man. Shawn Fields uses two distinct art techniques - one that looks like paintings (these are mostly of statues and of children of today who are "listening
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
His tribute to the tall, gaunt, noble man who held America together when no one else could have was the crowning achievement of a boy who loved to make beautiful things.

Absolutely stunning, informative, engaging, all-around wonderful book about this boy who loved to make beautiful things, illustrated beautifully by Shawn Fields. My 6 year old son was riveted throughout all 64 pages, including back matter with photographs. Shawn Fields' drawings throughout were just fascinating, and my son and I
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
I never heard of Daniel Chester French until I read this true story. As a child, he enjoyed drawing, but it wasn't until he was college age that he taught himself to sculpt. He created the Minuteman statue in his hometown of Concord, MA, and more than a hundred other monuments in his lifetime including the Abraham Lincoln monument at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Linda Booth Sweeney's middle-grade text is easy to read. Her research produced extensive back matter revealing more informa ...more
Mackenzie  Black
Dec 14, 2020 marked it as cvtc-kidlit
Have you ever been to visit the Lincoln Memorial? If you have you probably will remember how large and beautiful it looked. Well, did you know that you have Daniel Chester French to thank! Linda Sweeney does a wonderful job explaining the rich history behind one America's most talented artists (at least in my opinion).
I enjoyed the illustrations, I think they did a wonderful job depicting what is going on in the story. This would be a fun book to do for a storytime. You wouldn't be able to do as
Sara Fajardo
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Beautifully told biography that offers both the life story of Daniel Chester French, the sculptor who gave us the Lincoln Monument, and the historical context to understand the relevance of the time he lived. Small details such as Chester's brother also went off to war and quotes from famous neighbors help cement us in time and place. The influences on his life are palpable as is the thrill of his discovering his innate talents. Black and white textured illustrations provide an organic feel that ...more
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Monument Maker is the fascinating and moving story of the man who created the statue in the Lincoln Memorial (among many other sculptures). I’d heard of the name Daniel Chester French associated with the various monuments but I didn’t know anything about him. This beautifully illustrated book fills in many of the details that one would want to know about this talented artist. Extensive back matter supplies even more information for anyone who wants to dig a bit deeper.
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I didn't think I was going to like this book, but it ended up being most interesting. This is the story of the life of Daniel Chester French, the designer and sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial. He took on this project when he was 65 and completed it when he was 72.

A most interesting read! Also, I would give this to a child who is struggling with what is expected of them. French forged his own path and he ended up doing great things!
Sep 12, 2020 rated it liked it
As a picture book, this biography felt a little text-heavy, but not to an extreme. The back matter was rich and rewarding, bringing in details (I was wondering about his mom!) and also resources such as a list of where to find French's other sculptures (not near me). I liked the emphasis on how he moved from failed student to successful artist, and I thought the illustrations conveyed the message and emotions really well. ...more
Mar 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book is beautifully executed. (I especially loved how the orientation of the book at key moments switches to portrait orientation.) It tells the story of Daniel Chester French, how he came to be a sculptor, and, eventually, the sculptor of the Lincoln statue in the Lincoln memorial. At the back of the book, there is more detailed information (quite a number of pages!) about the sculptor and the Lincoln Memorial.
Michael Deschenes
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very engaging book about Daniel Chester French for young readers. But older readers will enjoy it as well. The illustrations coupled with the text tell the tale of an artist who truly loved his craft and created some beautiful works. For more scholarly book on French, Holzer's Monument Man is another wise choice. But for a great intro to the man and his works, this book is ideal. ...more
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a Massachusetts native, I'm very familiar with Daniel Chester French's iconic Minuteman statue, but I wasn't familiar with the story behind the statue and the artist. This book offers a fascinating look at French and his work on the Minuteman statue, the Lincoln Memorial, and other monuments around the world. It also weaves in social justice themes. ...more
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