A PRIMER ABOUT THE FLAG by Marvin Bell
Kirkus Star

A PRIMER ABOUT THE FLAG

by , illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 12

KIRKUS REVIEW

The title opens Bell’s poetic text, perhaps making readers anticipate seeing Old Glory, as in illustrator Raschka’s I Pledge Allegiance (2004). Cover art, however, omits the Stars and Stripes; indeed, the U.S. flag is conspicuously absent from all illustrations, although a spread reading, “There are flags on the moon, flags in cemeteries, costume flags,” includes stripes, stars, reds, whites and blues. Ultimately, this isn’t a primer about the flag but about “certain ones,” flags in general—perhaps provoking readers to think about allegiance to flags as symbols for all sorts of places, concepts, ideas and ideals. The figures and settings in the mixed-media illustrations are rendered in blacks, whites and grays, allowing vibrantly colored flags to stand out. And what other “certain” flags are included? Many. “There are Bed & Breakfast flags…There are little flags that come from the barrel of a gun / and say, BANG.” A final scene depicting a crowd following someone carrying a tree at his “waist just like a flag” asks readers to consider how a flag is defined and imbued with meaning only if we’ve told people “what it stood for.” Raise the banner high—this picture book is a triumph. (Picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4991-3
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2011