Volume IX Issue 4

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Who Built That? BridgesWho Built That? Bridges: An Introduction to Ten Great Bridges and Their Designers
Written and Illustrated by Didier Cornille
Translated by Yolanda Stern Broad
Princeton Architectural Press, 40 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781616895167

“Erected in just eight weeks, the first iron bridge has been used by many travelers. It is still standing today!” (p. 15)

One of USBBY’s Outstanding International Books for 2017, this picturebook is a wonderful introduction to bridges and their designers for readers of all ages. While illustrated in a simple scheme of red, black, blue, and green drawings, this alternative format presents the intricacies of ten of the most important bridges from around the world, including the Golden Gate Bridge built in 1937 and New York’s Brooklyn Bridge built in 1883. Just knowing when these 10 bridges were built is inspiring. The Iron Bridge in the United Kingdom was built in 1779 and is still standing. The newest entry is the Mucem Footbridge opened in 2013 in France.

The book is long and narrow, replicating the concept of bridges that span wide expanses. Especially delightful are the historical notes about the bridges and some of the inventions engineers developed to address particular issues or problems connected to some of the bridges. Part of a series that currently includes Who Built That? Skyscrapers (2014) and Who Built That? Modern Houses (2014), also by Didier Cornille, this book can readily inspire aspiring engineers and inventors.

This engaging book from France brings together design, engineering, and history. It would make a terrific addition to other books on engineering or innovation as well as other STEM-related concepts currently highlighted in schools. It would make a wonderful resource for a unit on design or bridge-building itself and could be paired with other books such as Donna Latham and Jenn Vaughn’s (2012) Bridges and Tunnels: Investigate Feats of Engineering with 25 Projects (Build It Yourself) or Michael Hurley’s (2011) The World’s Most Amazing Bridges. Other texts could include How Things Work Now (2016) by David Macaulay or Rosie Revere, Engineer (2013) by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts. For a more narrative addition to a study of bridges, readers might also like the 2006 Pop’s Bridge by Eve Bunting.

Didier Cornille lives in Paris, France where he works as a designer and illustrator. He is also a professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in France. He began his career as a designer of lamps and continues to work in the design of objects and furniture.

Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, OH