SWEET LAND OF LIBERTY by Deborah Hopkinson


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Age Range: 6 - 10
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Hopkinson shines the spotlight on Oscar Chapman, assistant secretary of the interior, who worked behind the scenes to make Marian Anderson’s concert at the Lincoln Memorial a reality. Hopkinson begins her tale with an anecdote from Chapman’s youth in rural Virginia: Asked by his teacher to buy a picture to decorate the school, he chooses a picture of Abraham Lincoln and is expelled by the bigoted school board. The narrative fast-forwards to 1939, giving the background behind the Daughters of the American Revolution’s refusal to let Anderson sing at Constitution Hall and revealing the tremendous organizing effort Chapman undertook not only to make the concert happen, but to make it a turning point in American history. Jenkins’s mixed-media illustrations are freighted with emotion, unnatural colors and skewed angles underlining the tumult of feelings surrounding the events, scribbles of colored chalk making the connection between Chapman the impassioned schoolboy and Chapman the righteous man. An author’s note provides details, although the presumably invented dialogue goes unsourced. Still, it brings deserved attention to Chapman and underscores the very worthwhile message that one does not need to be a star to make a difference. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-56145-395-5
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Peachtree
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2007


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