Review of Monument Maker, by Linda Booth Sweeney, illustrated by Shawn Fields

Monument Maker

Daniel Chester French and the Lincoln Memorial

written by Linda Booth Sweeney
illustrated by Shawn Fields

Tilbury House Publishers in association with the Concord Museum, 2019. 64 pages.
Starred Review
Review written January 14, 2020, from a library book

You can tell this is a monumental book when you pick it up and browse through it. It’s thicker than most picture books, printed on heavy paper. The pages are large, done with exquisitely detailed artwork, and pictures of two of Daniel Chester French’s statues done extra big by turning the book sideways. Almost all the pictures are in shades of gray, except the frame of the story with modern kids examining his work and shown in color.

The book tells about the whole life of Dan Chester French, the sculptor of the statue of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial and of the Minuteman statue in Concord and of many more American statues.

He didn’t expect to become a sculptor when he grew up, but he witnessed great events – like the end of the Civil War and the assassination of President Lincoln. And it turned out that he liked making art.

The book tells about the influence of moving to the town of Concord, Massachusetts and the great thinkers who lived there. I liked the detail that he took lessons in art from Louisa May Alcott’s sister (the model for Amy in Little Women).

I never realized that Daniel Chester French, the sculptor, made smaller models of the statue of Abraham Lincoln and other people, stonecutters, were responsible for the final statue made of stone.

I like it when biographies of artists give you the feel for how the artist was inspired as well as what his art is like. This book does those things very well.

Twelve pages of back matter give more information. This is an engaging, informative, and inspiring book. It makes me want to go see more Daniel Chester French sculptures.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

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