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Rafael Guastavino and the American Dream

by Berta de Miguel & Kent Diebolt ; illustrated by Virginia Lorente

Pub Date: April 7th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-88448-812-5
Publisher: Tilbury House

If you build it, they will marvel.

In 1881, architect Rafael Guastavino Moreno emigrated from Spain to New York City with his 8-year-old son, Rafael Guastavino Expósito. In time Guastavino Moreno patented an innovative construction system he had also brought with him: Vaulted and domed roofs and ceilings built with tiles were strong and fireproof. Eventually, illustration work led to the father’s first major project: designing the ceilings for the Boston Public Library. More tiled vaulted ceilings followed, including in NYC’s first subway station. When the elder Guastavino died in 1908, his son succeeded him, designing famed NYC spaces including the Bronx Zoo’s domed elephant house, the main hall at Ellis Island, and many others. This charming homage is a resounding tribute to immigrants’ contributions. The text is narrated by the younger Rafael in a proud, awestruck voice that makes both characters and their work come alive. A pictorial guide to the important architectural terms readers will encounter prefaces the book. Many of the lively, colorful, appealing illustrations prominently display tiled arches and depict father and son with tan skin; other persons are shown with diverse skin tones. Most verso pages feature a timeline; a map with NYC routes along which one can still see “Guastavino tiles” is included. Brief biographies of the duo are appended.

A firm foundation for building interest in architecture and a solid STEM resource.

(Informational picture book/biography. 7-10)