An introduction to the Stars and Stripes for younger readers.
This brief, rhyming history of our flag purports to explain its history and significance as a symbol of the United States. Its worthy goals seem to be stirring and engendering respect for the flag. However, the book’s rambling, unfocused narrative and inconsistent, clunky, stumbling rhythms likely won’t capture children’s attention or interest and may even confuse them. The book also perpetuates the myth of Betsy Ross (whose surname isn’t mentioned) as our flag’s progenitor. Positives include a mention of immigrants; an explanation of the symbolism of each of the flag’s colors; and excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the Pledge of Allegiance. Additionally, the backmatter features examples of U.S. flags from 1775 to 1960; rules of basic flag etiquette; and highly useful instructional guides to folding the flag and cutting stars. The very colorful illustrations far outshine the text and, indeed, are stirring, respectful, and thoughtful. Fort Sumter is juxtaposed with the Lincoln Memorial; a grizzled, brown-skinned veteran kneels at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial. Americans appear with diverse skin tones (one woman wears a hijab); some are depicted as if in old photos. One interesting page shows several states and the Indigenous words their names are derived from (though the original languages are not consistently identified).
You may salute this, but, except for the illustrations, this banner doesn’t fly high. (Picture book. 5-8)