cover image This Bridge Will Not Be Gray

This Bridge Will Not Be Gray

Dave Eggers, illus. by Tucker Nichols. McSweeney’s, $19.95 (104p) ISBN 978-1-940450-47-6

Simple questions make fine picture books. Why is the Golden Gate Bridge orange? National Book Award finalist Eggers (A Hologram for the King) begins before the bridge was built, as some Bay Area residents protest the idea: “It will mar the beauty of the land, they said. What’s wrong with boats? they said.” But the project goes ahead, and public opinion swings around to support it. Eggers’s featherlight humor provides laughs throughout, as in the description of the bridge’s steel parts journeying through the Panama Canal: “It was a long trip, but the pieces of steel did not mind, for they are inanimate objects.” Although the Navy wants to stripe the bridge black and yellow, and most people expect it to be gray, Irving Morrow, the project’s idiosyncratic champion, defends the vivid orange of the steel’s anti-rust paint, making the proclamation that gives the book its title. Nichols’s (Crabtree) construction-paper cutouts and hand-lettering provide a series of puckish visual counterpoints for the story’s two important messages: that situations and objects that appear unchangeable do, in fact, come from somewhere, and that adults can squabble even more foolishly than children. Ages 3–up. (Nov.)