Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge

Written and Illustrated by Rachel Dougherty

Emily Roebling was a woman of determination. Her husband, Washington Roebling, undertook the massive responsibility to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn over the East River with a bridge. When he became ill, Emily stepped in and taught herself everything she needed to know to finish the seemingly impossible project. She had to learn new technology, math equations and terms, and mechanics. After more than 10 years the bridge was completed. It looked as fragile as spider silk and the public was afraid it wouldn’t be strong enough. Emily was the first to traverse the bridge in a carriage, carrying a rooster as a symbol of victory.

This picture book is about a jaw dropping bit of history that celebrates the grit of a woman who had a thirst for knowledge, stood up to critics, and accomplished a marvel of engineering. The book illustrates and describes in detail how the bridge is built and able to be so strong. At times the details are a little overwhelming, but by studying the diagrams and descriptions the reader can understand the physics of how the bridge works. There are basically two elements to this book. First, the story of a remarkable and resolved woman, and second, the story of how the Brooklyn Bridge was built.

Review by Terrie Bishop, Academy Park Media Center
Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 4-9

Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge
Written and Illustrated by Rachel Dougherty
Roaring Brook Press
40 pages
Release Date: February 19, 2019
A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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