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LITTLE AMERICA by Helen Foster James


by Helen Foster James & illustrated by Jeannie Brett & Michael Glenn Monroe & Helle Urban

Age Range: 3 - 4

Pub Date: July 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-58536-179-3
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

It's unlikely little ones will garner much appreciation for the U.S. of A. from these trivial riddles.

Rhymes cover a gamut of iconic (and not-so-iconic) images associated with the United States of America. The design is developmentally unfortunate for the audience, with a riddle on the right-hand page of each spread. Each page turn reveals the answer and begins the set-up for the next example, creating a disconnect between riddle and image. Although visual clues indicate a riddle's answer—an eagle's wings appear around the box of text that contains the verse, for instance—it doesn't work for a board-book audience. Clichés abound (apple pie, cowboy), while a tour of landmarks provides only a superficial overview. Phony enthusiasm is the order of the day. “Its pretty flowers / smell so sweet / this thorny flower / can't be beat.” (And since when has the rose been a symbol of the United States?) The necessary superficiality results in an experience almost devoid of meaning; the focus on the White House, for example, skips any mention of the country's Commander in Chief. “In Washington, D.C. / you're sure to see / this special house / and a cherry tree!”  

More a sure-fire flop than a patriotic primer. (Board book. 3-4)