Capital

Overview

How did the White House become white?

Who designed the capital city?

What is the Washington Monument made of?

Find the answers to these questions and many more about our stunning national capital, Washington D.C., within the pages of this illuminating book by award-winning author and illustrator Lynn Curlee.

Provides a history ...

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Overview

How did the White House become white?

Who designed the capital city?

What is the Washington Monument made of?

Find the answers to these questions and many more about our stunning national capital, Washington D.C., within the pages of this illuminating book by award-winning author and illustrator Lynn Curlee.

Provides a history of Washington, D.C., focusing on the National Mall, its monuments and surrounding buildings.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A necessary addition to American history collections."
School Library Journal, starred review

"[Curlee's] acrylic paintings are as grand as the capital itself."
San Francisco Chronicle

Publishers Weekly
This illuminating history of Washington, D.C., spotlights five of the city's most imposing structures: the U.S. Capitol, the White House, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial. After explaining how George Washington selected the site of the new government seat, the author describes the original plan for the city, developed by engineer and architect Pierre-Charles L'Enfant, who "vowed to create a capital `magnificent enough to grace a great nation.' " Unlike his Brooklyn Bridge and Liberty, which focused on the development of one structure, Curlee here chronicles the planning and construction of all five landmarks, emphasizing the historical and architectural significance of each. He covers a lot of territory; some readers may wish he had dedicated the entire book to the most complex and captivating story (and the one to which he devotes the most pages): the Capitol. Curlee's paintings of the designs and buildings, especially the Capitol's dome, seemingly thrusting through the clouds, are as breathtaking as ever; the portraits of people, however, tend to be somewhat static or wooden. Budding historians will be most captivated by the tale of the Capitol's construction, its burning by the British during the War of 1812, its rebuilding and subsequent enlargements, as well as an ample sprinkling of trivia (e.g., Thomas Jefferson's anonymously submitted plans for the original "President's House" did not win its design competition; the Capitol served as a hospital during the Civil War; etc.). Curlee makes dramatic use of light in his spare, realistic acrylic paintings of this monumental architecture, readily conveying the buildings' splendor and grace. All ages. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal

"A necessary addition to American history collections."

San Francisco Chronicle

"[Curlee's] acrylic paintings are as grand as the capital itself."

School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-This in-depth look at the planning and construction of some of our country's most treasured architecture, which lines the National Mall in Washington, DC, is also U.S. history encapsulated. Mandated by the Constitution in 1787, the capital has existed as a potent symbol, both architectural and political, of a city and a government that belong to the entire country. At every architectural turn in the next two centuries, the building that has taken place around the Mall has echoed and amplified national events and concerns, and Curlee makes these connections clear. His training in art history is evident in his analyses of not only the buildings themselves, but also their role as expressions of our democratic beliefs. His oil paintings, which support the text admirably, are beautiful and architectural, almost severe, but often have human figures included both for scale and emotional accessibility, and in this they echo the text. This title is a worthy companion to Curlee's Liberty (2000), Rushmore (1999), and Brooklyn Bridge (2001, all Atheneum). It is a stirring, timely, and thoughtful reminder of the principles underpinning the creation of our nation, and a necessary addition to American history collections.-Dona Ratterree, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Meticulous illustrations accompany brief descriptions and histories of the buildings and monuments that form the heart of the nation’s capital. After discussing the founding, initial design, and 1814 burning of Washington, D.C., Curlee delivers thumbnail sketches of the Capitol, the White House, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. Moving chronologically in order of the beginning of building and geographically around the Mall, he deliberately situates each subject; maps of L’Enfant’s original plan and the Mall as it is now flank these presentations. Tidbits of history (e.g., that the Capitol served as a hospital during the Civil War and that Thomas Jefferson anonymously entered the contest to design the White House) join the occasional architectural cross-section to give a sense of both form and function of these buildings. In their clarity and simplicity, and with their deep-blue backgrounds, the illustrations clearly hearken back to Curlee’s earlier work, but this offering’s necessarily inclusive nature means that the work as a whole lacks the glorious specificity and unity of narrative of efforts such as Brooklyn Bridge (2001). Although this volume nominally covers five buildings, the Capitol receives the lengthiest and most enthusiastic treatment; one might wish that it had been the sole focus. In tone, the text takes on a reverence that never lets its reader forget that these buildings are monuments: "Painted a dazzling white, and with its noble profile, large windows, and lofty height . . . the Capitol dome is instantly recognizable. Triumphantly completed during the nation’s most terrible crisis, the great dome came to symbolize the Union itself."Quotations from primary sources, some regrettably unidentified, embellish the text. In all, a worthy effort that cannot escape a certain hodgepodge effect. (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416918011
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 5/9/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 816,211
  • Age range: 3 months - 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynn Curlee, who received a Robert F. Sibert Informational Honor Book Award for Brooklyn Bridge, comes from a family of intense sports fans. His other books include Liberty, Ships of the Air, Into the Ice: The Story of Arctic Exploration, Rushmore, The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Capital, and, most recently, Parthenon. He lives on the North Fork of Long Island, New York.

Lynn Curlee, who received a Robert F. Sibert Informational Honor Book Award for Brooklyn Bridge, comes from a family of intense sports fans. His other books include Liberty, Ships of the Air, Into the Ice: The Story of Arctic Exploration, Rushmore, The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Capital, and, most recently, Parthenon. He lives on the North Fork of Long Island, New York.

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Read an Excerpt

The White House. The Washington Monument. The Lincoln Memorial. The Jefferson Memorial. The Capitol building. These structures define and glorify our nation's history and stand today as towering symbols of architectural achievement. However the tale behind their construction is often left untold. Brought to life by Lynn Curlee, the story of the emergence of our capital city is one that is both moving and awe-inspiring.

In Capital, Mr. Curlee explores the forces behind, and the people working for, the creation of these monuments, detailing the brilliance, agony, and creative spirit that went into them. With extraordinary paintings and a moving narrative, he revitalizes the history of Washington, D.C., and the growth of a nation, for young readers.

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