Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Not sure if I'm just incredibly ignorant, but for as many times as I have been to California, I had never heard of the Watts Towers. Am I the only one? In case you are as clueless as I am, this National Landmark is a series of 17 sculptures, including 3 towers ranging from 55 to 95 feet tall. The sculptures were built by Italian immigrant, Simon Roddia, who spent thirty-four years bending and molding construction rebar, slathering it with mortar, and then embedding broken bits of glass, pottery, and other "junk" he found laying around his neighborhood. Roddia's story is told through the voice of Marguerite, a neighborhood child who was paid a penny per bag for helping Roddia gather the materials for his towers, then later grew up to introduce her children to her neighbor and his artwork.

Two pages of author notes give factual information and photographs about the towers; then another two page spread invites children to create their own "Watts Tower" sculptures out of pipe cleaners, beads, buttons, foam shapes, and magazine clippings. Sounds like big fun to me!

I found DREAM SOMETHING BIG at Tattered Cover. I have to admit, this book caught my eye because of the art. Susan L. Roth has illustrated more than 40 children's books, but is probably best known for LISTEN TO THE WIND. Roth works in collage (one of my favorite mediums) and her illustrations are absolutely gorgeous- intricate, colorful, eye catching, perfect for capturing the story of Roddia's sculptures. A few pages at the end of the book, as well the end pages, contain actual photographs of the Watts Towers.

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