Wednesday, September 4, 2019

"Monument Maker" Shares the Fascinating Biography of Daniel Chester French, the Self-Taught Sculptor Behind the Famous Lincoln Memorial (Review)

Disclosure: I was sent a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

(Also available in Kindle format)

One of the things I love about homeschooling my girls, next to seeing their eyes light up when they learn something new or grasp a concept we have been studying, is when I learn something.  Even though I graduated with a college degree, I don't know about you, but most of what I learned in elementary and secondary school as it relates to history and that is a blur.  Yes, I remember all the major things, but I never recalled learning about who make the Lincoln Memorial.  Do you know the back story of the Lincoln Memorial?  If not, then you will love reading the new book, MONUMENT MAKER, available now from Tilbury House as of Sept. 3rd.

Last week I was sent the MONUMENT MAKER  picture book and couldn't wait to share it with my girls.  I knew my youngest daughter, who is a huge history buff and loves learning about the US presidents including Lincoln, would go crazy for this book...and, that she did!  As soon as she saw me take it out of the mail, she quickly grabbed it to flip through the pages of this book, which if filled with mostly black and white illustrations, interspersed with a handful of color ones, which truly stand out, and are powerful to look at in contrast to the black and white ones.  When we finally sat down to read this book, I found myself smiling and getting excited, just like my girls do when we read a new book and they can't wait to see what happens next. 

I found MONUMENT MAKER  to be a very intriguing book about the biography of Daniel Chester French.  It was interesting to learn that Daniel Chester French was from Concord, MA, which was a few towns over from where I grew up as a kid.  After reading this book, I found myself wondering why I never learned about this sculptor, as we took many field trips to the battlefields and historical sites in and around Concord, MA for school.  But, I was happy to finally be learning about Daniel Chester French, alongside my two girls, who also thought this was a fascinating read.

Not only is this book about the Lincoln Memorial, but it is a story about the lessor known sculptor who created this masterpiece with his bare hands. And, to think that Daniel Chester French was a self-taught sculptor.  Not only did he create the Lincoln Memorial, but he also made the famous Minuteman statue in Concord, MA, that I have seen up close many times. 

The Minute Man statue, North Bridge, Concord MA 

I am planning a trip up to Concord in the next few weeks to show my girls the Minuteman statue before heading over to Stockbridge, MA to check out the Chesterwood featuring French's former studio and other works up close.

Image may contain: plant, tree, sky, grass, house, outdoor and nature

If you are a homeschooling family or teaching looking to introduce your kids/students to people like Daniel Chester French, who may not be household names or talked about in school books, then you will want to check out MONUMENT MAKER.  This non-fiction picture book is not only informative by truly a wonderful tribute to a sculptor who created an amazing piece that is well-known, and should be celebrated.  

About this book:

"When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, fifteen-year-old Dan French had no way to know that one day his tribute to the great president would transform a plot of Washington, DC marshland into America’s gathering place. He did not even know that a sculptor was something to be. He only knew that he liked making things with his hands.

This is the story of how a farm boy became America’s foremost sculptor. After failing at academics, Dan was working the family farm when he idly carved a turnip into a frog and discovered what he was meant to do. Sweeney’s swift prose and Fields’s evocative illustrations capture the single-minded determination with which Dan taught himself to sculpt and launched his career with the famous Minuteman Statue in his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts.  

French in his studio at Chesterwood standing next to his model of Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial.

This is also the story of the Lincoln Memorial, French’s culminating masterpiece. Thanks to this lovingly created tribute to the towering leader of Dan’s youth, Abraham Lincoln lives on as the man of marble, his craggy face and careworn gaze reminding millions of seekers what America can be. Dan’s statue is no lifeless figure, but a powerful, vital touchstone of a nation’s ideals. Now Dan French has his tribute too, in this exquisite biography that brings history to life for young readers."

Author Linda Booth Sweeney
Format Hardcover
Illustrator Shawn Fields
ISBN 978-0-88448-643-5
Pages 64
Price $19.95


About the Author:

Linda Booth Sweeney is an accomplished writer and an educator specializing in the exploration of living systems.

About the Illustrator:

Shawn Fields studied art at the School of Visual Arts, the Arts Student’s League, and the New York Academy of Art. His work has been exhibited at ArtBasel Miami, Forbes Gallery NYC, Arcadia NYC, and is collected worldwide.

Disclosure: I was sent a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

1 comment :

  1. I'd love to get this book for my grand son and also myself to read!! What an interesting story!!