Sunday, July 20, 2008

Building Manhattan by Laura Vila

I remember from teaching third grade that one of the topics we had to cover was the growth and development of cities. Of course we always focused mostly on our town's history, but I always liked to throw in one of our country's big cities for a comparison. Now it's been 15 years or more since I taught third grade, and I'm not even sure if this is something they still cover, but whatever level discusses this topic, they need to be using Laura Vila's new book, Building Manhattan.

With limited text and bright, simple pictures, Vila takes Manhattan from a island just forming, to a natural habitat for animals and plants, to a home of Native Americans, to Dutch and English settlement, through the American Revolution into the modern city we know today. It is amazing how much information is Laura Vila presents with so few words. Her paintings, though, are full of information that children will pick up on, and the beauty of it is that they will pick up on different information each time they look at the pictures. This is not a book that they will soon grow tired of, in fact, I have a feeling it will be one that teachers will need to replace frequently, as the student wear it out.

I will not only be placing this book in the library, but will be strongly recommending it for teachers to place in their classrooms.

As I researched other reviews I found this page by page background at Laura Vila's website. It appears that Laura has included her research on the facts. What an awesome classroom tool to take this book even further in depth. She has even more activities to go with the book here. Wow! My enthusiasm for this book just keeps growing!


  1. This actually would work perfectly for any Ohio 3rd grade teacher! They need to know how communities are developed, not just their own, but others as well.

    Great find!!

  2. WOW! Karen's right -- great find! The page by page background information is a treasure trove! I'm thinking 5th graders could use this book --> Native Americans, Explorers, Cultures, Revolutionary War. And you're right, we need copies in 4th grade just because they'll love to keep looking at it one more time!