Picturebook Review: Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing

Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing, written by April Jones Prince and illustrated by Francois Roca, tells the story of P.T. Barnum's idea to show the world that the newly constructed Brooklyn Bridge was safe when it opened in 1883. It had taken fourteen years to build, and most considered it a great technological feat, but many still worried about its safety. Barnum grasped the chance and staged an event that would calm everyone's fears and stay in their memories forever.

Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing is a great telling of a true story. The description on the front flap of the jacket, and the author's note at the end of the book completes it with a framework that explains what is really known about the even, and any liberties taken with the story. Roca's artwork looks wonderful, capturing the essence of the events and looking very real. The story is amazing, and for anyone that knows Barnum's history, even more interesting because of his amazing life. I am not usually drawn to picturebooks about real life, I like to escape in my reading and when I read with my children. However, I found this one completely captivating.

Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing would be a great book for library and classroom collections. It would be particularly good for beginning discussions about elephants, construction, history, and P.T. Barnum.
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