Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Monumental Verses

Monumental Verses

J. Patrick Lewis
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 11
National Geographic Children's Books, 2005   ISBN: 0792271351

Scattered around the world, there are man-made creations that have been gazed upon by thousands upon thousands of people. As we look at these monuments, we wonder how the people who envisaged them actually went about the business of building them. We marvel at the beauty or grandeur of these structures, and often leave taking some representation of the monument with us so that we can show others what we have seen

For this poetry collection, J. Patrick Lewis has written some splendid poems that serve as a tribute to some of the world’s monuments and to the people who built them. Our journey around the world begins in Stonehenge. Placed on Salisbury Plain by people some five thousand years ago, this extraordinary collection of stones has been the source of countless stories and theories. How on earth did the Beaker people, without the benefit of machinery of any kind, drag the rocks for many miles and float them on rafts so that they could be arranged in their current location? The people knew that it would take them “one hundred full moons,” to move the stones, and to this day we still do not know for sure how they managed to “stand ten-ton stones upright.”

Thousands of miles away, and built thousands of years later in the 1930’s, the Golden Gate Bridge in California dazzles visitors who travel long distances to see it. Many of the guests wonder at the odd color of the bridge. Why would anyone want to paint a bridge the color of “Red raspberries,” mixed with “California / Nectarine” and “golden / Grape juice?” It is hard to say, but the orange bridge reminds one of “a sunset/ Neighborhood in a sunshine country.”

Another monument built of metal is the symbol of France. The Eiffel Tower was put together by three hundred workers in the late 1800’s, and it has delighted tourists ever since. Unveiled by the Prince of Wales, and climbed by a mountaineer, this amazing structure is “hailed” as “a star” by the French people.

In all, poet J. Patrick Lewis looks at thirteen monuments from around the world. He takes us from Easter Island to Egypt, and from China to New York City, and in each place he uses a different poetical form to show us how lucky we are that people of vision gave us these monuments to explore, admire, and wonder at.

At the back of the book an epilogue explains how the poet chose which monuments to write about. In addition, there is a world map showing the location of the thirteen monuments, and there is further information about each one.

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