Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge

We have been enjoying Women’s History Month as we have been reading some amazing books on women who are remarkable. In today’s book review, we are keeping up with this theme and introducing you all to Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridgewritten and illustrated by Rachel Dougherty. 


On a warm spring day in 1883, a woman rode across the Brooklyn Bridge with a rooster on her lap. The rooster was a symbol of victory, and the woman was victorious.

It was the first trip across an engineering marvel that had taken nearly fourteen years to construct. The woman’s husband was the chief engineer, and he knew all about the dangerous new technique required to stabilize the massive structure. The woman had insisted she learn as well. When he fell ill mid-construction, her knowledge came in handy. She supervised every aspect of the project while he was bedridden, and she continued to learn about things only men were supposed to know: math, science, engineering.

Women weren’t supposed to be engineers. They were supposed to be: wives, mothers, homemakers.

But this woman insisted she could do it all, and her hard work helped to create one of the most iconic landmarks in the world.

This is the story of Emily Roebling, the secret engineer behind the Brooklyn Bridge.


Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge is an inspiration to any young girl to believe that she can do anything. At a time where a woman’s role was defined solely in the home, Emily rose above expectations and was instrumental in the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. We loved learning about this piece of history and the empowering story of Emily.

“Though Emily was born at a time when women were not given much education or professional opportunity, when life asked more of her, she rose to the occasion. Her mind sharp and her hands steady, Emily proved that women could be as successful in science and engineering as any man.”

For this #MelAndNikkiReview, we give this book 5 Bridges out of 5! We loved the history, empowering message and illustrations. We recommend this book for children ages five to eight.


About the Author

Rachel Dougherty is the illustrator of three nonfiction picture books: Your Life as a Cabin Attendant on the Titanic, and The Twelve Days of Christmas in Pennsylvania. She is a lifelong history buff and has always paid special attention to the stories of brave and commanding women. Secret Engineer is the first picture book she has both written and illustrated. She lives in Philadelphia. To learn more about Rachel, click here.

If you would like to purchase a copy, click here.


Until next time…Happy Parenting!


-Momma Braga



* The book was provided to Momma Braga in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed her solely belong to Momma Braga.

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