The Children's Bookshelf: Construction People

Sep 14, 2020

CONSTRUCTION PEOPLE, poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins with illustrations by Ellen Shi, is an interesting and lively book about the construction of a skyscraper and all of the people who get the job done. From the architect to the workers who operate the backhoe, dump trucks, cement mixers and cranes to the welders, carpenters, plumbers and electricians it takes a village of talented workers.

The poems, one for each of the fourteen work areas, are full of energy whether describing moving dirt, laying foundations, making cement, installing elevators or welding the structure. In Song of the Welders Allan Wolf uses a powerful rhythm to describe splicing and joining and bonding and linking. In Electricians by J. Patrick Lewis the poet calls electricians hot wire magicians! In Cement Speaks poet Ralph Fletcher allows the cement itself to tell the patient tale of its forever mixing.   

The colorful illustrations throughout depict the strength and intention of the machinery and the workers. The orange-suited welder, industrial mask in place and hair secured in a ponytail as sparks dance, is striking.

The inclusion of women throughout as part of the skyscraper-building enterprise as architects, crane operators and welders is welcomed.

CONSTRUCTION PEOPLE with poems selected by the late Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrations by Ellen Shi is a terrific picture book written in rhyme for children 4-8 years of age about the dedication, creativity and skill that is required to build a skyscraper. (WordSong, an imprint of Boyds Mills and Kane, 2020).

Activity questions for CONSTRUCTION PEOPLE

Ask a parent to read the poem Construction Project Manager aloud to you. Listen carefully. Can you hear how the last word in the first and third lines in each stanza rhyme?  Are there any other words that rhyme in this poem? From the repetitions in this poem what do you think is the Project Manager’s biggest concern or worry?

Have you ever seen and/or heard a dump truck in action? Ask a parent to read the poem Dump Truck Drivers aloud while you listen for the word sounds that the poet has placed in the poem. There are many ways to make these sounds. Go ahead and try it yourself. Have fun! Now make up your own word sounds for a train passing by, a fire engine racing along, a car stopping suddenly and a racing car coming into the final stretch.

Look at the cover of this book. This illustration goes with the poem Song of the Welders. If you were to give this illustration another name what would it be? Why?