In their attempt to answer the titular question, authors DiOrio and Yoran go beyond the stated stereotypes of apple pie, fast food, and fireworks (a Chinese invention, it must be noted) to address a series of serious and timely civic issues.
The result is a mawkish primer of American ideals served on a feel-good platter of puff-piece Americana, complete with a senatorial endorsement. The America of this book is a good place: Equality is taken for granted, as is environmental protection. The multicultural people pictured throughout the richly hued pages are ethical, caring, and aware of their responsibilities as citizens. There is a hopeful, uplifting tone, matched by the illustrations’ rosy portrayal of the United States. Realistic readers (or maybe just the grounded and common-sensical ones) would, however, question whether the ideals delineated in the book are shared ones. One cannot help but wonder whose America this is? The book comes with a useful appendix for caring adults, but it’s hard not to interrogate the decision behind the selection and full listing of just the first and second amendments (out of 27) to illustrate the changing nature of the U.S. Constitution. As a sidebar, the authors’ biographies account for triple the words of the narrative, reinforcing the privileged self-serving vibe present through the pages.
Well-meaning but naively idealistic. (Informational picture book. 4-8)