nonfiction nuggets…building a cathedral

Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction, written and illustrated by David Macaulay

In the 12th-14th centuries, Europeans in numerous cities undertook the colossal task of constructing new cathedrals to the glory of God.  Built in the Gothic style, these cathedrals featured soaring buttresses and massive, echoing naves, lofty arches and magnificent stained glass windows.

Over a period of perhaps 100 years, scores of master craftsmen — stone cutters, sculptors, carpenters and glass makers — devoted their lives to their particular contribution to the cathedral.

Without cranes or jackhammers, computerized design tools or laser levels, these medieval people dug foundations, quarried tons and tons of stone, raised towers and engineered buttresses, installed gargoyles and crafted windlasses, to build these elaborate, breathtaking architectural wonders.

David Macaulay won a Caldecott Honor for this fascinating account of the construction of a (fictional) cathedral in France.  Step by step, we learn of the vast skill and time and manpower that went into these building projects.  Besides  Macaulay’s interesting, precise narration, we get his award-winning drawings — painstaking pen-and-ink drawings of tools, cutaway views, views from afar, birds-eye views looking down from the ceiling, close-up examinations of various sections or artisans.

Of course, this makes an excellent resource for those studying the Medieval era.  It is also very accessible to inquisitive children at much younger ages than you might think.  An early-elementary age child might not care to listen to every word…but then again, with a slow, thoughtful reading by an interested grown-up, you never can tell!  Macaulay has several other titles in this genre which you can follow up on if this one suits you. 

Here’s an Amazon link: Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction