Mackinac Bridge: The Story of the Five-Mile Poem
Illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen
Picture Book (Series)
Ages 7 to 10
Sleeping Bear Press, 2007, 1-58536-283-2
Mark Hansen is thirteen years old and this should be a happy summer for him but because of his father and because of the building of the bridge it isn’t. His father is the captain of the Aurora, one of the many ferries which goes back and forth across the Straits of Mackinac. In the summer the Aurora takes vacationers to the Upper Peninsula and in the fall there are the hunters who flock across the water on the ferries. But this year the bridge will be ready in the fall and the ferries will no longer be needed. The Aurora and Mark’s father will be out of a job.
Many people are convinced that the bridge will not be able to stay up, including Mark’s dad, but Luke, Mark’s older brother, thinks otherwise. In fact he is so sure that the bridge is going to be a success that he gets a job as an iron man on the bridge. Luke wants to be a part of the project and Mark cannot help envying him. Mark reads everything he can about bridge building and about David Steinman, the poetry writing engineer who designed the Mackinac Bridge. And, of course, he watches and watches, as the great bridge is built right before his eyes.
This is a wonderful story as told by a thirteen year old boy about a historic event in Michigan history. Indeed, until 1998, the Mackinac Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Not only does Mark witness the building of an astonishing engineering marvel but he also sees members of his own family comes to terms with the great changes that the bridges brings about to the straits area.
Readers will find David B. Steinman’s poem “The Bridge at Mackinac” at the beginning of the story, and further information about the famous bridge and its history at the end of the book.
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