Monday, December 7, 2009

Nonfiction Monday -- Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore by Thomas Kingsley Troupe, illustrated by Matthew Skeens. Minneapolis, Mn: Picture Window Books (Capstone Press), 2009. available now.

Usually books about our national monuments are illustrated by photographs, but not this book. However, the illustrator managed to capture the important points about the creation of this huge monument to four of our presidents. (quick -- name those four presidents)

The information in this book is bookended by a park ranger. Although the text is printed in large typeface with short sentences which makes the book accessible to first and second graders, the remainder of the book is supposed to be the talk he is giving to tourists.

Did you know that Mount Rushmore was not the first choice for carving historical statues? Mr. Doane Robinson originally planned to include heroes from the history of the American West, including various Native Americans, on some of the tall rocky peaks in the Black Hills of South Dakota called The Needles. But they were too fragile.

The final carving (done by blasting dynamite. then fine-tuned by other rock carving tools) shows four U.S. presidents instead of Western heroes.

Poor Thomas Jefferson. After 18 months of carving, his face was blasted from the mountain because the rock kept cracking. The rock was stronger on the other side of Washington, so they began carving again there. (The book does NOT mention that a portrait of a young Jefferson was carved. So young that people often think the head next to Washington is his WIFE, Martha Washington! No, that's not in this book. I discovered this information while researching my own book about Thomas Jefferson.)

Of the three books suggested "to learn more" section in the back of the book, one is produced by the Mount Rushmore History Association, which leads me to believe the information presented here is as accurate as can be.

Other backmatter includes:
More facts. Glossary. Index. On the web. And a list of all the books in the American symbols series.

Disclaimer -- This book is part of a box of books sent to me from Capstone. The remainder of those books will soon find their way to a nearby school library.

More Nonfiction Monday messages can be found at Rasco from RIF. -wendieO

1 comment:

Mary Bowman-Kruhm said...

I didn't know that about Thos. Jefferson! I think maybe I need to read your book.