Mann (The Great Wall, 1997, etc.) offers the older end of the picture-book set a concrete, engaging narrative on another of the man-made wonders of the world. Opening her tale with the failure of the French, under Ferdinand de Lesseps, to construct their own canal in Panama, Mann quickly moves into the details of President Teddy Roosevelt's obsession with the project; he broke international law by encouraging and aiding Panama's rebellion for independence in 1903. The resulting treaty--though unfair to Panama--gave Roosevelt all the leverage he needed, and despite yellow fever and malaria, America soon poured thousands of workers and millions of dollars into this enterprise. While there were excellent living conditions for American workers in Panama, those conditions were not duplicated for Caribbean laborers: ""Black Caribbeans suffered a higher rate of death from accidents and disease than any other group."" Rangel's lavish full-color illustrations capture the immense scale of the canal's construction, from the damming of the Chagres River to the construction of the locks on a four-page, fold-out spread. Mann and Rangel have created an exceptional resource for the classroom, as well as an epic piece of storytelling.