A love song to America inspired by its people, with names familiar and less known. Each page of this album-sized volume contains a creative grouping of individuals under the author's unique (some will find it arbitrary) system of headings—``Pastoral Protectors'' (Rachel Carson, James Audubon, etc.), ``Expatriates'' (James Baldwin, Grace Kelly, Ezra Pound, Henry James, etc.), ``Writers'' (Herman Melville, Clifford Odets, Edith Wharton, etc.), ``Scoundrels and Thieves, Villains and Rogues'' (John Dillinger, Al Capone, etc.), ``Poets'' (not Robert Frost, but Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens, Edgar Allan Poe, etc.), and many more. Sometimes cluttered but always worth poring over, the modest illustrations reflect the richness of US history and culture. Provensen (The Buck Stops Here, 1990, etc.) includes the contributions of women and most minorities, although the Native American experience is poorly represented. Neither a reference book nor a coffee-table prize, this volume will have to make its own niche. A browser's delight, it offers up tidbits of trivia and memorable quotes with the turn of the page; a few words from it would enhance any report and may inspire readers to populate their own landscapes with the people important to them. Back matter includes Provensen's observations and reflections on her choices for inclusion and an index of names. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-8)
Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1995
Page Count: 64
Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1995
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