cover image Concrete: From the Ground Up (Material Marvels)

Concrete: From the Ground Up (Material Marvels)

Larissa Theule, illus. by Steve Light. Candlewick, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1250-1

Opening with a definition of the composite substance before progressing through a loose chronology of key innovations, Theule and Light whisk readers from the Göbekli Tepe to the Three Gorges Dam, the Berlin Wall, and beyond in this fascinating continent- and history-spanning introduction to concrete’s wonders. Quippy speech bubbles and typeset prose tell the story, while pen, ink, and watercolor cartoon images depict famous landmarks and people, portrayed with a range of skin tones, across time. While Roman buildings play an outsize role in the book’s first half, later passages delve into 18th-century civil engineer John Smeaton’s waterproof concrete recipe; the development of reinforced concrete and its role in the construction of skyscrapers, bridges, and dams; and contemporary architectural applications. A breezy, accessible tone keeps the heavy-duty subject feeling light. A bibliography concludes. Ages 7–10. (Sept.)