We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2019 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
How Emily Saved the Bridge
The Story of Emily Warren Roebling and the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge
Written by Frieda Wishinsky
Illustrated by Natalie Nelson
Published by Groundwood Books (2019)
TL;DR: A woman was in charge of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Before reading this book, I had no idea who Emily Warren Roebling was. Set during the 1860s, How Emily Saved the Bridge tells the story of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. Of course, the story goes beyond that.
Emily Warren loved science and math. She wanted to go to school and learn everything that she could. Fortunately, Emily had a very supportive brother. He enrolled Emily at a school in Washington, D.C., where she earned high marks.
During the Civil War, Emily’s brother became a general. When she visited him at camp, Emily met her brother’s aide, Washington Roebling. As you may have already guessed, Washington and Emily eventually got married. This happened in 1865, a few months before the Civil War ended.
Washington’s father was a famous bridge builder. In an effort to provide better transportation and city access, Washington’s father started working on a new project: a bridge that would connect Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Two years after the idea for the project was conceived, Washington’s father died of an infection. Upon Emily’s encouragement, Washington took over building the bridge. Unfortunately for some of the workers, they developed “caisson disease,” Washington included. Needless to say, Emily took charge and worked hard to build the bridge. It took a grueling 14 years but it was worth it. With a span of nearly 1600 feet, the Brooklyn Bridge a hybrid suspension bridge that still stands this day.
It’s not just the fact that Emily Warren Roebling was the only female who helped build the Brooklyn Bridge that made the story remarkable. When Washington got sick, Emily took charge of everything: their home, Washington’s illness, and their son. Emily read books and consulted with her husband every day to learn everything she possibly could about engineering and building bridges. Emily put on a hard hat and delivered. As noted in Rosie Riveters, Emily Roebling never planned on becoming an engineer. However, she accomplished what could only be describes as a huge engineering feat for that time.