Monument Maker: Daniel Chester French and the Lincoln Memorial

Tilbury House. Sept. 2019. 64p. chron. photos. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9780884486435.
Gr 2-4–While the Lincoln Memorial is one of the most famous statues in the United States, the sculptor who created the statue is arguably not as well-known. This picture book biography tells the story of Daniel Chester French from his days as a farm boy drawing birds and making the neatest plow lines to his time as a preeminent sculptor. While the story begins in modern times with two unnamed children in color drawings, the bulk of the narrative is told in black-and-white illustrations on white pages. Color photographs of the statues are sometimes blended in with the illustrations. This is startling but effective. At the book’s end, the children return to the now completed Lincoln memorial, closing the loop on a baffling and incongruous framing device that is the main detractor from this otherwise quite good biography. Back matter includes an excellent time line of French’s life, complete with more color photographs and notes on the significance and legacy of the Lincoln Memorial, particularly as a site for speeches.
VERDICT A good, simple biography on a lesser-known creator of a very famous landmark. It could serve as an excellent supplement to a collection of art or landmarks but not a first purchase.

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