Title: Steel Town
Author: Jonah Winter
Illustrator: Terry Widener
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Concepts: capital, natural, and human resources; production
Review: Decades ago when the steel industry dominated Pittsburgh's economy, it seemed like the mills never stopped, barges carrying coal from the mountains constantly traversed the rivers, freight trains filled with steel kept rumbling past, and the sky was always black. This period also evokes images of resolute, grimy men operating the heavy machinery day and night, while women worked in other jobs and at home.
With its succinct, poetic text and bold, dark illustrations, Steel Town offers young readers a bracing look at life as a steel worker just a few generations ago. Added to the mix is an interesting depiction of how steel is produced, including the shoveling of coal into beehive ovens to turn it into coke, the production of pig-iron in the fiery blast furnace, and the transformation of molten pig-iron into steel at the steel mill. Parents and teachers seeking to teach children about natural, human, and capital resources will appreciate this book's stylistic yet informative account of steel production in yesteryear's gritty steel town.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children