Certainly the world of public libraries would be poorer without the substantial contribution of Andrew Carnegie.
This picture-book biography outlines the rags-to-riches story of the Scottish immigrant’s journey as a child to the United States and his rapid succession through jobs to one with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. With money earned from his managerial role, he began the shrewd investing in railway, oil, iron, and steel companies that led to his extreme wealth. He never forgot the pleasure he got from books borrowed as a young man from Col. Anderson’s private library in Pittsburgh. This gentleman allowed “young workers” access every Saturday. The accompanying illustration shows young Andrew ascending a ladder up a vast wall of books that occupies the entire page. When Carnegie grew rich, he “used his own money to build public libraries so others could have the same opportunity.” Carnegie’s story is told in methodical, plain fashion, with the more controversial aspects of his career as a union-busting robber baron confined to a paragraph in backmatter. Illustrations feature a flattened, naïve style in a limited palette dependent on blues and browns, appropriate to the 19th-century period. An unlabeled world map highlights the far-flung locations of Carnegie libraries.
A useful if uncomplicated way of teaching “that we can all make a real difference when we choose to give back.” (sources) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)