AMERICA

A PATRIOTIC PRIMER

What does it mean to be an American? In her first effort for children, Cheney attempts to answer this question as well as encapsulate the entire history of the US through the familiar device of an alphabet book. Glasser’s (You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Museum of Fine Arts, below, etc.) cheerful watercolor-and-ink illustrations are the greatest strength of this ambitious project, with endearing children of all colors, kinds, and cultures, and dozens of historical figures and sites rendered in carefully researched detail. Each page or spread includes a topic sentence, several smaller related vignettes, a large initial letter framing a related illustration, and often a border incorporating a hand-lettered quotation. Packing all this information onto the page requires a crowded, busy design (a challenge met quite well by the designer), and some very small treatments of type, which are really too small for most children to read by themselves. The multiple illustrations on each page preclude reading the volume aloud to a group, although the information and the concepts will work well in elementary classrooms. The most likely use for this is for teachers and parents who want to teach their children about US history, citizenship, and patriotic concepts, probably focusing on just a few pages rather than the whole volume at once. Though the concept and busy design require some extra effort, this well-meant exploration of our history and heritage packs a huge amount of information between its covers. (author’s note) (Nonfiction. 6-11)

Pub Date: May 21, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-85192-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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THE STORY OF EASTER

First published in 1968 and newly illustrated by Vitale, this is a history of the Christian celebration of Easter that, after briefly recounting the story of the Resurrection, links the holiday to other spring festivals, covers the ancient custom of giving the gift of an egg (a symbol of the new life of spring), and includes contemporary customs, such as the fashionable stroll down New York City's Fifth Avenue after church on that day. Also included are instructions for egg decoration and a recipe for hot cross buns. Even the recipe demonstrates the clear, informative prose of Fisher, whose expert organization leads from topic to topic. Vitale's illustrations are a marvel; each full-page picture is filled with details that reflect the times, the flora, and the culture of the era shown, colored with a range of appropriate earth tones. Every element of design makes this an inviting addition to the holiday shelf, even for those already owning the original book with Ati Forberg's illustrations. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 1997

ISBN: 0-06-027296-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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Timely and stirring.

ENOUGH!

20 PROTESTERS WHO CHANGED AMERICA

A shoutout to heroes of nonviolent protest, from Sam Adams to the Parkland students.

Kicking off a proud tradition, “Samuel threw a tea party.” In the same vein, “Harriet led the way,” “Susan cast her vote,” “Rosa kept her seat,” “Ruby went to school,” and “Martin had a dream.” But Easton adds both newer and less-prominent names to the familiar roster: “Tommie and John raised their fists” (at the 1968 Summer Olympics, also depicted on the cover), for instance; “John and Yoko stayed in bed”; “Gilbert sewed a rainbow” (for San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day parade in 1978); “Jazz wore a dress”; and “America [Ferrera] said, ‘Time’s up.’ ” Viewed from low or elevated angles that give them a monumental look, the grave, determined faces of the chosen subjects shine with lapidary dignity in Chen’s painted, close-up portraits. Variations in features and skin tone are rather subtle, but in general both the main lineup and groups of onlookers are visibly diverse. The closing notes are particularly valuable—not only filling in the context and circumstances of each act of protest (and the full names of the protesters), but laying out its personal consequences: Rosa Parks and her husband lost their jobs, as did Ruby Bridges’ first-grade teacher, and Tommie Smith and John Carlos were banned for life from Olympic competition. Pull quotes in both the art and the endnotes add further insight and inspiration.

Timely and stirring. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984831-97-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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