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Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing
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Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  259 ratings  ·  56 reviews
After fourteen years of construction, the Brooklyn Bridge was completed, much to the delight of the sister cities it connected: Brooklyn and New York City.

Fireworks and top hats filled the air in celebration when the magnificent bridge opened in 1883. But some wondered just how much weight the new bridge could hold. Was it truly safe?

One man seized the opportunity to show
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 26th 2005 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  259 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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May 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their older children
This book offers a glimpse into the world of New York City in the 1880s, when the Brooklyn Bridge was under construction leading to the grand opening and the stunt by P.T. Barnum to march twenty-one elephants across the completed bridge to demonstrate his confidence in its strength and durability.

The narrative is very straightforward, but not overly interesting. And the illustrations are gorgeous, but I expect that they would not engage a younger child. An older child who is interested in
Luisa Knight
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fun story to learn about! The Brooklyn Bridge, P.T. Barnum and elephants - how can you go wrong? Your children will enjoy this fascinating tale (just make sure you read with the flow of the commas. For some weird reason I was struggling with the stanzas/ flow so just an FYI in case you run into the same thing).

And if you want to learn more about the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, I highly recommend David McCullough's book: . It was fantastic!

Paola Galindo
Feb 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is the true story of what happened after the Brooklyn bridge was completed. Many people had doubts that it was safe to use because they had never seen anything like it before. But when P T Barnum hears that people are scared to go on the bridge he decides to do something to cast away everyone's fear. He marched across the Brooklyn Bridge with the twenty one elephants from his circus. The bridge stayed standing and everyone was happy.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this story
Emily Roberts
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
Interesting little story about the history behind the Brooklyn Bridge (of which I have always been incredibly fascinated). The illustrations are gorgeous, as well. Very soft and delicate. The wording of the book is a bit unusual, but still a good read for children.
May 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: mom, ellie, jacob
Very interesting way of telling how the Brooklyn bridge came about. We love reading about history when they are told with interesting stories instead of just facts.
TIL that 21 elephants walked across the Brooklyn Bridge when it first opened! I knew that the bridge was one of the first to use divers to build it, and that it was designed by Roebling, but I did not know that elephants marched across to prove its safety!

This book tells the story well enough. Of course, it is about the elephants and not Barnum, and does not mention that they were likely maltreated and abused, but it is still an interesting anecdote. Ozman appreciated it and enjoyed the story. I
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Some wondered how long it would stand.”

It took 14 years, but finally the Brooklyn Bridge was built to connect New York City to Brooklyn. “Amazing, worth the waiting, it was simply breathtaking.” After a celebration with fireworks, bands and “people partied til the sun rose.” It was “so long and so lofty, its cables so new,” would it be safe?

P.T. Barnum vowed to prove that the bridge was safe. “I will stage an event that will calm every fear, erase every worry, about that remarkable bridge.” So
May 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting story, maybe true, maybe not, as explained by the author, but still a fun little snippet of history. Unfortunately, I feel as though most of the story was about the building of and worry over the bridge. The elephants, well, they felt like an afterthought. Almost anticlimactic when they crossed. That disappointed me. I think the pacing just didn't work for me. Still, it's a great one for kids to read who are interested in engineering.
Apr 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: picture-books
Miss 4 was bored and stopped paying attention. Probably more relevant for Americans or denizens of Brooklyn. I found the historical information at the back of the book interesting.

Miss 4 and I like to explore different books and authors at the library, sometimes around particular topics or themes. We try to get different ones out every week or so; it's fun for both of us to have the variety and to look at a mix of new & favourite authors.
This book has the most generous description of P.T. Barnum I have heard yet: "Phineas T. Barnum always looked on the bright side."

Interesting story here, but I agree with several other reviewers that this title will likely appeal more to adults than kids. The illustrations are lovely but do not capture one's attention, especially the cover image.
Jennifer B.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Nice little bit of history, interesting for NY lovers, elephant lovers, and bridge lovers. Of which I am all three!

Lovely and lifelike illustrations, too.
Jane Karen
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great book that talks about an amazing event put on by PT Barnum- my greatest showman fan son was thrilled! What an interesting way to introduce a historical event and monument to children
Molly Ritterbeck
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love when a kids book that speaks about history pulls through. This was a good read about a piece of history and it was well illustrated!
Sarah Middlestead
Set in Brooklyn. Tells the story of PT Barnum crossing the Brooklyn Bridge with 21 elephants. #thegreatestshowman
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Having walked the Brooklyn Bridge, it was certainly interesting to read this account of elephants crossing the bridge to determine if it was safe!
Jo Oehrlein
Dec 04, 2019 rated it liked it
About the Brooklyn Bridge and PT Barnum and showmanship and public confidence.

Makes me wonder things about how elephants walk in a line. Do they march "in step"?
Kevin Rosendale
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing shows children how Barnum Circus was really ahead of its time, along with sharing the history of the Brooklyn bridge. This story starts out showing us a family looking over the bridge, in this moment the illustrator establishes the time period for the author. In this one illustration we as the audience are able to infer that the time of the book took place in the early 1900's. The main plot of the story is that of the Circus coming through town and walking ...more
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great book to coordinate with a STEM project!
Gabrielle Blockton
Sep 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Date: September 23rd, 2014

Author: April Jones Prince; Illustrated Francois Roca

Title: Twenty-One Elephants And Still Standing

Plot: April Jones Prince's story focuses on the formation of the Brooklyn Bridge and the story of how people learned to embrace what the "eighth wonder of the world" had to offer.

Setting: New York, New York

Characters: 21 Elephants; P.T. Barnum

Point-of-View: Third-Person

Theme: New Beginnings

Style: Informational; History; Colorful and Realistic Illustrations; Poetic

Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, picture-books
Basic Plot: PT Barnum helps prove the Brooklyn Bridge is safe.

This book is based on an actual historical event. People were apparently unsure of the safety of the Brooklyn Bridge just after it was built. I can understand this. I still get queasy at the thought of going up in very tall skyscrapers and such, though I know they are structurally sound. PT Barnum marched 21 elephants across the bridge in a truly Barnum-worthy stunt that showed the people of New York the bridge was plenty sturdy.

Tracey Melcher
After years of construction, the greatly anticipated Brooklyn Bridge is finally open for passage. But many people are questioning whether the bridge will be safe. Phineas T. Barnum of circus fame envisions a spectacular display that will put New Yorkers’ fears to rest once and for all. Twenty-one elephants, weighing around 10,000 pounds each, parade through the city, crossing the bridge to admirers’ cheers. Although this demonstration was unconventional (to say the least) it helped prove the ...more
Sarah Shufelt
In May of 1884 visionary P.T. Barnum (of Barnum and Bailey’s Circus fame) ceremonially had twenty-one elephants march across the newly constructed Brooklyn Bridge. Fears from New Yorkers that the bridge was not sound were soothed by the massive procession making their way safely across. April Jones Prince’s text flows smoothly, but Francois Roca’s beautiful paintings steal the show. Information about how the author did research for the book is provided and additional sources for those ...more
from finding dulcinea blog: After fourteen years of construction, the Brooklyn Bridge was completed, much to the delight of the sister cities it connected: Brooklyn and New York City.

Fireworks and top hats filled the air in celebration when the magnificent bridge opened in 1883. But some wondered just how much weight the new bridge could hold. Was it truly safe?

One man seized the opportunity to show people in Brooklyn, New York and the world that the Brooklyn Bridge was in fact strong enough to
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a book about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and how people were afraid to walk on it for fear of it falling. P.T. Barnum, the creator of "The Greatest Show on Earth" decided to take all 21 of his elephants across to prove it's strength and for the publicity. It worked on both counts. For and activity you can gather paper clips and straws, and let the students experiment with bridge design. Instructions at
(From Library Sparks magazine - May/June 2016
Oana Cerchezan
This easy read book is a great way to show second grade children all the wonderful things this world contains. It contains a piece of history that is not always presented in normal history books. The people in the story talk about how nervous they are that the Brooklyn Bridge will not be able to support a lot of weight. A great science activity to do with the children is to get them to construct their own bridge and test what different objects their bridge can hold.
Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: f-picture-books
I write this review with a huge bias. Fifth graders and I read this picture book over the course of three classes and participated in evidence-based arguments about the setting, the language and the theme. The reflections from the students generally reflected an enjoyment of that process. From my side, it was wonderful to see their engagement in the story while weaving and out of their positions.
Apr 29, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Leigh Collazo
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing years ago and have used it in library lessons with 3rd-8th graders. I recently wrote up some of my lesson ideas for English, library, STEAM, art, and economics classes in a post on my library blog. Check it out and please feel free to use and share!
Oct 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing is a book about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. While the vocabulary may make it difficult for children to read on their own, the story line and illustrations are incredibly interesting and appealing. The teacher needs to prepare a well-planned and engaging read aloud.
Beth Schencker
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
Upon completion of the Brooklyn Bridge, P.T. Barnum and his 21 elephants parade across to prove to everyone that the bridge is safe. Beautiful illustrations by Francois Roca help support the story of 21 elephants crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. Great book to use in a Math or Science lesson to talk about weight, building structure.
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April Jones Prince is a children's book author specializing in history and books for the very young.