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Saturday, February 24, 2018

This Bridge Will Not Be Gray, story by Dave Eggers and art by Tucker Nichols. Chronicle Books,. Raincoast. 2015. $29.50 all ages

"This time he asked for help. One of his helpers was Leon Moisseiff. Leon had come to the USA from Latvia and had become one of the most respected bridge designers in the world. He designed the Manhattan Bridge ... "

The two books that I am posting today will be shared by all those interested in landmarks and their historical significance, as well as the path taken to be where they are today.

I have seen the Golden Gate Bridge through fog and blinding rain. We were on a road trip home from southern California and passed through San Francisco at the peak of rush hour traffic in the early evening. Luckily, I wasn't driving and could catch a glimpse of the bridge through the rain splattered window. What an awesome sight, although I could not tell what color the bridge was from my vantage point!

In this book, Dave Eggers puts his research  skills to work to tell the story of its construction, from start to finish. It is as if he is speaking directly to each reader in telling his story. Mr. Eggers describes the city and its Bay area, allowing his audience to understand the need for a bridge to be built. Much had to be done before construction could begin ... all complete before the color of the bridge was even considered. Most bridges are gray, not orange.

Along the way there were many obstacles, not the least of which was the question of marring the beauty of the bay with a monstrous span. Color was a tough sell, but Irving Morrow, an architect, made a case for using orange because of its beauty. He would not be deterred from that decision.

 “This bridge, built to span this beautiful land against this beautiful sea, had to be beautiful itself.”

The construction paper collage artwork created by Tucker Nichols fill the thick, over-sized book with full spreads, bold color, and lovely backgrounds. He has an eye for compositions that completely suit the text, and allow readers to understand all that is happening as the text moves forward. The bickering between talking heads as people complained about construction, design and color are attention grabbing, and add context for young readers.

Playful and often humorous, Dave Eggers has written a non-fiction book that defies what we expect of the genre. Make no mistake, it is a book for all ages.

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