In 1893, when she was 34, Wellesley English professor Katharine Lee Bates took a train trip from Boston to Colorado Springs...

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"PURPLE MOUNTAIN MAJESTIES: The Story of Katharine Lee Bates and ""America the Beautiful"""

In 1893, when she was 34, Wellesley English professor Katharine Lee Bates took a train trip from Boston to Colorado Springs to teach summer school. She kept a diary, as she had since she was nine, and wrote down odds and ends of observation and poetry when she could. She saw Niagara Falls, stopped off to visit a friend and see the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where she marveled at Mr. Ferris's Wheel and the gleaming white buildings. While in Colorado, she briefly glimpsed the top of Pike's Peak, and the beginning of poem began to form. Combined with her other jottings, it would become ""America the Beautiful,"" set to a hymn by Samuel Ward. Using original sources, Younger makes a living character out of Bates, whose quirks and full-bodied charm gracefully flow from the letters and diary excerpts. Schuett's illustrations, with their slightly exaggerated forms and saturated colors, capture not only the ""fruited plains"" and ""alabaster cities"" but vistas of Bates's hometown of Falmouth, and intimate scenes of her cozy bedside table and the parlor where she welcomed guests. A wonderful historical endnote will be appreciated by those who think they are too old for picture books, or those working on school reports. Put this on display near Barbara Cooney's Miss Rumphius (1982) and Michael Bedard's Emily (1992).

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998