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Lady Liberty: A Biography / by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Matt Tavares


Title:  Lady Liberty: A Biography
Author:  Doreen Rappaport
Illustrator:  Matt Tavares
Publisher:  Candlewick Press
ISBN:  978-0-7636-2530-6
Year:  2008
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 4.8

Concepts:  human resources, jobs, scarcity, immigration, altruism, economic history

Review:  Told from the viewpoints of the people who conceptualized, financed, and built the Statue of Liberty, this remarkable book describes how the Lady Liberty was transformed from a bold idea in France to an enormous symbol of freedom in New York Harbor.  In France in 1865, Professor Édouard de Laboulaye shared with his colleagues his vision of building a monument to commemorate the American Revolution and to celebrate the friendship between France and the United States.  Ten years later this vision began to take shape through the hands of Auguste Bartholdi, a French sculptor who believed in the possibility of de Laboulaye’s dream.  It took another eleven years for various crews to design the copper sheeting, engineer the internal steel structure, ship the pieces to America, build the pedestal, erect the steel skeleton, attach the copper shell to the steel framework, and formally dedicate the Statue of Liberty. 

The author and illustrator do an excellent job in communicating both the visible and the less visible work involved in building the Statue of Liberty. Much credit goes to the efforts by poet Emma Lazarus to write the inspiring sonnet that was engraved on a plaque on the statue’s base:  “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…”  Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World, also played a crucial role in raising money to finance the construction of the pedestal in the face of opposition from government and business leaders.  Intertwined with the interesting historical narratives are valuable economics lessons about human resources, jobs, immigration, and altruism. The stunning artwork and informative text work well together to make reading this book a truly rewarding experience.

Review by:  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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