Bridges Are to Cross :: Book Sharing Monday - Eva Varga

November 2, 2009

My kiddos have always been intrigued by bridges. “When are we going to see the big bridge?” is a frequent question as we travel over the Cascade and Coast mountain ranges on our way to Grandma & Papa’s house in North Bend. The McCullough Bridge, the mile-long span across the Coos River, is their indication that we have arrived.

With our recent vacation in San Francisco and seeing first hand two of the most infamous bridges (The Golden Gate Bridge and Oakland Bay Bridge), the kids have been increasing interested in bridges. At the library last week, we discovered another gem, stumbling once again upon a book in our library by chance (many of the books we’ve most enjoyed have been found at the library on display – we haven’t actually searched the online catalog to find them).

Bridges are to Cross by Philemon Sturges is a great introduction to bridges. Everyone knows bridges are to cross — to get to the other side. But did you know that some bridges carry llamas loaded with firewood, some let people dance over lazy rivers, some were forts for defending castles, and some were crossed by emperors and popes? From a simple log to woven webs of steel, bridges reflect our values, our lifestyles. Feast your eyes on these bridges from around the world and you will come to realize that crossing is only one reason for having a bridge.

The text introduces the reader to many of the most famous bridges in the world, of which our favorites were:

  • Apurimac River Bridge, Peru (rope suspension bridge)
  • Cnococheague Aqueduct, Maryland USA (stone arch bridge)
  • Segovia Aqueduct, Spain (stone arch bridge built by the Romans)
  • Salginatobel Bridge, Switzerland (3-hinged concrete arch bridge)
  • Brooklyn Bridge, New York USA (wire suspension bridge)

Each bridge introduced also includes a brief statement identifying the bridge type… from arch to suspension to rope bridges… providing a building block for those interested in learning more about the architecture of bridge design.

Bridges are to Cross is an excellent book for budding engineers, future artists, and especially new readers!

Like most picture books, what intrigued us perhaps more than the words were the three-dimensional illustrations, all painstakingly created with intricately cut paper by artist Giles Laroche. The illustrations were created on a variety of paper surfaces through a combination of drawing, painting, and papercutting.

These cut-paper illustrations of bridges are complex and exquisite; their texture and depth astonishing. Paper-cutting or paper-piecing is fast becoming one of our favorite art forms. We have continued to explore it through the work of Hans Christian Andersen.

Upon reading this book, the kiddos are even more interested in bridges and have been building bridges in our living room to cross the span between the couch and the coffee table. They started out using their bodies to create simple beam bridges and have now advanced to using their Taekwondo belts to create suspension bridges. The little guy even identified it correctly, “Mommy! This is a suspension bridge like the Golden Gate!”

Visual representation of the pages of an ebook titled, Engineering Marvels: Bridges.

As their interest was peeked, I revisited the toothpick bridge unit I taught when I was teaching full time and simplified a few of the lessons to accommodate their younger age. I have made it available for you as an ebook, Engineering Marvels: Bridges.

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