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Growing Up on Mount Rushmore

by Tina Nichols Coury & illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: May 10th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3731-0
Publisher: Dial

You’re a dutiful son; your father, renowned sculptor Gutzon Borglum, designed the presidential monuments on Mount Rushmore. You finish the job when your father dies, but history will ignore you.

This book’s aim is to rectify history’s misstep. It takes readers from Lincoln Borglum’s shy childhood to the beginning of the project in 1927, when he was a teen, and on through its completion 14 years later. Lincoln was deeply involved, working at many grueling tasks alongside hundreds of crewmen. Readers learn that Gutzon designed a Hall of Records, never constructed, to be built behind the sculptures. They also discover that Jefferson’s head was once carved on a different site on the mountain but had to be demolished and reconstructed elsewhere. Lincoln did swing under a president’s nose, although, despite the title, the author doesn’t confirm it was Jefferson’s. Mount Rushmore commemorates four presidents; this serviceably written book memorializes the younger Borglum. Lincoln is sympathetic, and readers will be glad he enjoyed future success, described in an afterword. The acrylic-and-pastel paintings are rendered in earth and muted tones and give a sense of the monument’s scale. The final endpapers depict the four presidents; younger children would benefit from their being identified. A mostly outdated, seemingly child-unfriendly bibliography is unhelpful.

Much has been written for children about Mount Rushmore. While this isn’t a must-have, it offers a new approach to this landmark. (Picture book/biography 7-10)