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MY COUNTRY, ’TIS OF THEE

HOW ONE SONG REVEALS THE HISTORY OF CIVIL RIGHTS

This examination of a well-known piece of music and the activism it inspired makes for a fascinating way to explore history.

One of the first patriotic songs young Americans learn in school is “America,” more commonly known as “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.”

At some point, many also learn it shares its melody with the British anthem, “God Save the Queen.” What is not so familiar is how several different versions of the words have appeared through the years and how many groups and movements used these versions to fuel their efforts for expanded rights. From the tune’s first appearance in 1740s England as a way to support the monarch, during the Revolutionary War and beyond, lyrics were written and rewritten to reflect sometimes-conflicting causes. Murphy introduces various movements seeking civil rights and how they crafted verses to suit their particular causes. Short paragraphs provide context to introduce the variations, while single sentences in a larger type punctuate each spread. Readers are encouraged not only to learn about the song, but to write their own verses. Collier’s watercolor-and-collage illustrations provide an additional level of understanding and complement the narrative. Detailed backmatter, including extensive source notes, bibliography, resource list (including musical links), make this an enlightening addition to social history.

This examination of a well-known piece of music and the activism it inspired makes for a fascinating way to explore history. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8226-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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LITTLE DAYMOND LEARNS TO EARN

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists.

How to raise money for a coveted poster: put your friends to work!

John, founder of the FUBU fashion line and a Shark Tank venture capitalist, offers a self-referential blueprint for financial success. Having only half of the $10 he needs for a Minka J poster, Daymond forks over $1 to buy a plain T-shirt, paints a picture of the pop star on it, sells it for $5, and uses all of his cash to buy nine more shirts. Then he recruits three friends to decorate them with his design and help sell them for an unspecified amount (from a conveniently free and empty street-fair booth) until they’re gone. The enterprising entrepreneur reimburses himself for the shirts and splits the remaining proceeds, which leaves him with enough for that poster as well as a “brand-new business book,” while his friends express other fiscal strategies: saving their share, spending it all on new art supplies, or donating part and buying a (math) book with the rest. (In a closing summation, the author also suggests investing in stocks, bonds, or cryptocurrency.) Though Miles cranks up the visual energy in her sparsely detailed illustrations by incorporating bright colors and lots of greenbacks, the actual advice feels a bit vague. Daymond is Black; most of the cast are people of color. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-56727-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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WILLOW THE WHITE HOUSE CAT

Kids will enjoy the opportunity to “mews” on the doings of a presidential pet.

First Lady Biden and Capucilli, author of the Biscuit series, explain how Willow the cat came to reside at the White House.

Willow lives contentedly in a barn. One day, she’s curious when cars approach and people gather to hear a blond woman speak. Willow draws closer, then is delighted as the woman lifts her up and hugs her. That evening, light-skinned Farmer Rick tells Willow she made “quite an impression”: The visitor has invited Willow to live with her. A car arrives to drive Willow away to the White House, her new home in Washington, D.C. There, she’s welcomed by the first lady—the same woman who tenderly held her at the farm. Willow meets the president and explores her new home, filled with elegantly furnished rooms, grand staircases, and historic portraits. Plus, there’s a toy-filled basket! Best of all, there are wonderful people who work in and visit this beautiful house who show Willow kindness and affection. Willow’s favorite resting spot is at the president’s side in the Oval Office, though she also enjoys watching the first lady read to children on the lawn. Animal lovers will especially appreciate this sweet, cat’s-eye view of the White House, which helps humanize the first family by depicting them as ordinary feline fanciers. The loose ink, acrylic, and paint illustrations are cheerful and cozy. Background characters are racially diverse.

Kids will enjoy the opportunity to “mews” on the doings of a presidential pet. (author’s note from Biden, photos) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN: 9781665952057

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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