HOW TO WRECK A BUILDING by Elinor Lander Horwitz


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I felt really sad when I found out that my old school was going to be torn down,"" begins Horwitz's young narrator; and seeing the ugly low box they've built next door, you'll agree. The only reason given for the change is that the old building, though ""obviously solid,"" ""isn't safe anymore."" A skeptical citizen might be less inclined to accept that assertion, but this kid's resigned regret is no doubt more likely; and it sets a consistent, communicable tone for the book. Through the upper elementary schoolboy's eyes, then, the Horwitzes show and tell how the school is demolished--from the lonely, just-moved-out-of classrooms with kids' papers still hanging up, the first BANG! as the scrap metal men yank out the radiators and the clam bucket's first exterior blow (""By the time I came out of school. . . places that had always been inside were outside""), through the bucket's relentless bashing (""Every day the building looked less like a school and more like a wreck"")--until only a rickety frame remains. The old skeleton resists, but at last, after a welder has weakened the structure and a special loader with cable has tugged away, it comes down with a ""WOW!!!"" and we see a page-sized heap of rubble. ""You might say I lost my past."" Later, though, ""I have to admit that the demolition was the most exciting thing that ever happened in our neighborhood."" The last photo shows kids playing baseball on the cleared site. All the photos show the sequence with impact, precision, human interest, and an unobtrusive variety of visual viewpoints.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1982
Publisher: Pantheon