Grant Webb has been obsessed with machines and how they work for most of his nine years.
Now, he’s hoping to reach out to other like-minded children his age through a book he co-wrote with his mother, Jill Webb, called “The Construction Kid: The Big Beginning.”
The self-published book, which is available on the Barnes & Noble and Amazon websites, is based on Grant’s love of backhoes and his experience watching and helping a Columbia Gas crew replace gas lines in Sewickley three summers ago when he was just 6 years old.
When the Webbs received a notice about the construction project, Grant jumped at the chance to watch and ask the crew questions.
“They could see he was genuinely interested in their work, and they just couldn’t ignore him because he was just that persistent,” Jill Webb said.
“We would spend hours every day that summer — we’d have to trade off between family members and baby sitters — and he learned so much about safety, about quality of work, about leading a crew.”
Grant insisted on staying up late with the workers because he thought he was part of the team and didn’t want them to be working and not have his support, Jill Webb said. It wasn’t unusual for him to come home with tar all over his clothes.
Jill Webb said she thinks Grant’s love of construction and machines is in his DNA.
“It all started with our vacuum cleaner. He was obsessed with it. He named it Dina, and he would run it nonstop,” Jill Webb said.
In addition to the gas-line project, he has shadowed workers on sidewalk and crosswalk projects in the borough, laid bricks in a business district building and has his name signed on a beam inside the board room of the Esmark Center in Edgeworth.
Jill Webb said she and Grant began writing “The Construction Kid: The Big Beginning” during fall, after the gas line project. Quoting author Ernest Hemingway, she said everyone has something interesting in his or her life that could be made into a book, and they felt that their special summer was worthy.
“I just wanted to write a book and see how it would come out, see if people would like it and maybe write some more just to tell people about how my summers went with construction and how construction is fun,” Grant said.
Jill Webb said they were hoping to fill an age gap for books on the subject of construction.
When he was younger, Grant loved “Bob the Builder” and board books about construction, but when he got old enough to read chapter books, there was nothing out there focusing on the subject, Jill Webb said.
“He just has a craving for that kind of work, and no other books would do. He doesn’t want books about science; he doesn’t want books about imaginary lost-in-time stuff. He wants technical,” she said.
The Webbs are planning for “The Construction Kid” to be a series with the next book focusing on erecting an office building in Sewickley.
Kristina Serafini is a staff writer forTrib Total Media. She can be reachedat firstname.lastname@example.org.