Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building

by Deborah Hopkinson

Other authorsJames E. Ransome (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2006

Call number



Schwartz & Wade (2006), Edition: 1st, 48 pages


In 1931, a boy and his father watch as the world's tallest building, the Empire State Building, is constructed, step-by-step, near their Manhattan home.

User reviews

LibraryThing member adge73
This book doesn't do a great job blending the story of a boy and his father during the Great Depression with the construction of the Empire State Building; however, both stories have their merit and this work as a whole commands attention. It did make me nervous the way all those people were up so
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high doing dangerous work, though.
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LibraryThing member MSblast
Through "the concrete canyons of Manhattan" come trucks carrying steel to build the tallest building made, the Empire State Building! This book is an ode to the men who built this spectacular landmark and shows a step by step guide to how it was built. This book provides a lot of information and
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captures an important part of American history. Great for children who enjoy building things.
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LibraryThing member sckimmel
Two stories: one of a young boy and his father living in NYC during the depression; and one of the men that built the Empire State Building are relayed in a narrative from the boy's point of view as an on-looker and paintings of the construction progress.
LibraryThing member D.Holliman
I read this book to my students in Title I and they really loved the pictures and learned a lot about the Empire State Building. Most of them had very little if any schema about it so it really got them thinking and making connections to skyscrapers that they have seen. I loved the illustrations in
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this book and I thought that they were a great asset to the book.
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LibraryThing member annashapiro
A boy wants to show his father the work being done to build the empire state building in the depression era, new york city. Sky boys work in steel forests and people watch from New York's concrete canyons as this book takes the reader through such an artistic unfolding of the construction of one of
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the world's most famous buildings. There are fantastic descriptions of each worker and beautiful illustrations of the progress of the building as the months go by. Truly a gem of a book.
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LibraryThing member raizel
Fascinating description of the building of the Empire State Building with lots of numbers and visual explanations. Note at end gives even more details. Some beautiful illustrations as well as amazing photos on the endpapers.
LibraryThing member MesserPicks
This would be a great book to read to any child who enjoys buildings or is interested in architecture. This would also go along with any unit that includes building or just to help children understand how much work goes into building buildings. This is also a great book to read to understand part
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of the history of New York City.
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LibraryThing member Jenlovely
In the Depression, jobs were scarce. Many men were given the opportunity to work on a landmark in our country, the Empire State Building. This was a dangerous job as the men they call 'sky boys' walked around high above New York City on small beams riveting this building together at a rate of four
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and one half stories per week. This building was a great task for its time and the men that worked on it were glad to have employment. This story starts with a boy noticing a large building taken down in his neighborhood when he is looking for firewood. He wonders what they will put in its place. From there he watches the giant project unfold before his eyes and when it is complete, he and his Dad go to the top to see the world from the 86th floor. This building was the tallest for its time and a symbol of hope in the time it was built. The story told from the point of view of a young boy was enjoyable and had me wanting to know more. The end of the book summarizes in a note about the story some of the facts of the building as well as acknowledgements and source notes. A great book to share in a classroom!
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LibraryThing member nathanmannn
Sky Boys starts with a boy trying to find wood to burn in winter and happens upon the construction site for the Empire State building. The illustrations carefully depict all the different jobs involved in the construction and the phases of its completion. Riding the elevator to the top and seeing
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the view acts as a father and son bonding moment. The book is jammed pack full of interesting facts and information about the Empire State building and takes the reader back in time to admire the spectacular architectural feat.
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LibraryThing member GaylDasherSmith
Fascinating for all ages with great illustrations. Shows how heros can be everyday Joes.
LibraryThing member brandaman
I liked it. It had good information
LibraryThing member adaniel11
Genre: Informational

Setting: The story takes place during the Great Depression during the building of the Empire State Building. The authors do a good job of setting the scene by telling us things like the boy’s father has lost his job and he must scour the streets looking for firewood before he
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can go to school. One day he finds a huge pile and it is because an old hotel has been torn down and a new building is being built that has given 600 men jobs. Later in the story it talks about how each many works as fast as he can because if not there are hundreds of men who are waiting in line to take his job. Then there is the reality that once the job is done, he will be back in line waiting for a job too.

Review: The authors stay true to the genre of informational fiction because they use illustrations that are accurate according to subject content. The illustrations depict the building of the Empire State Building and the process that was involved. The book ends with a page talking about the construction of the building and the process that was involved along with how tall it is and how it is an important National Historic Landmark.

Media: Oil Paint & Photographs (on endpapers)
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LibraryThing member atlomas
This book is a very entertaining and informative book about how the empire state building was built. Reading this book to any class is a good way of incorporating history or math.
LibraryThing member sweetiegherkin
This picture book is about the building of the Great Depression. I was a little disappointed that the book was a very superficial telling of that story. Understandable, yes, it's a picture book for children, but I felt it could have gotten a bit deeper into the subject and still hold children's
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attention. The oil painted illustrations are fantastic though.
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LibraryThing member Meerkat4
This book really promotes (passively mind you) Nationalism!!! other than that, it is a fun book that walks the reader through the creation of the Empire State Building, really touching on the bravery of the workers walking those steal beams with no tie-off. It was really demonstrated via the art
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work. On top of that, it really gives a glimpse of the hard times facing America during it's construction. Perhaps that was the intent of the nationalistic view point, that was a major part of promoting a united American ideal to help pull the country out of difficulty. I was a good book and educational. I would recommend it.
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LibraryThing member ShantiR
Genre: Historical fiction
Audience: 3-5th grade
This story takes place during the Great Depression. In this story the author describes how the Empire State building was built in 1931 from the point of view of a young boy. During the Great Depression when his father loses his job, the boy describes
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thousands of men working to build the tallest building in the world at that time. It portrays the spirit of a beaten down society trying to build a symbol of hope in the middle of Manhattan when thousands of people are unemployed. Through a little boys eyes Deborah Hopkinson describes how the building is built using tons of steel along with people working at great heights. It shows the resurrection of the American Spirit and how great things of beauty can come into existence even during the darkest of times. The text of the book is extremely exciting as the building is built. This is also a book I will share with students while describing the Depression Era, to show how great things can be built and accomplished with hard work and perseverance.
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LibraryThing member tricha11
Overall, I felt this was a good book and an interesting inside look at the construction of the Empire State building. The first element that I enjoyed were the illustrations. They were very nicely done and captured the terrific views of New York City. I also enjoyed how they were paintings, but not
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sloppy painting; they were very colorful and realistic. The second element I enjoyed was the diction of the author. There was a lot of good vocabulary seen throughout the story. To be specific, there were a lot of construction terminology, such a firm, strong, rivet, and assembly line. The third element of the story that I enjoyed was the design of the book. I really loved how at the beginning and end, they showed actual pictures of men working on the Empire State building. In the end, I felt the main message of the book was how if you work hard enough at something, a person can produce something very special through that hard work.
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LibraryThing member mrspriest
This is a fun and informational book that describes the building of the Empire State Building during the time of the Great Depression.
LibraryThing member Abdullah9000
A boy and his father observe the progress of the building of the tallest building the world at the time.
LibraryThing member villemezbrown
A nice, rosy-eyed historical fiction tribute to the construction workers who thrust the Empire State Building to a record height into the sky during the Great Depression.
LibraryThing member sloth852
My youngest was obsessed with this one. I loved its celebration of the amazing accomplishments of the workers, and the context of what it meant to the people watching it rise.


Boston Globe–Horn Book Award (Honor — Picture Book — 2006)
Kentucky Bluegrass Award (Nominee — Grades K-2 — 2008)
Bluestem Award (Nominee — 2011)




0375836101 / 9780375836107
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