AMERICAN MOMENTS by Robert Burleigh


Scenes from American History
by , illustrated by
Age Range: 6 - 10


From October 1621 (the first Thanksgiving) to October 2001 (a vigil commemorating 9/11), 18 scenes from US history are presented in clay tableaux. The expected and even hackneyed (Washington crossing the Delaware, Neil Armstrong on the moon) share space with the less clichéd (Susan B. Anthony sentenced for attempting to vote, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington playing together), each tableau accompanied by a breathless, present-tense evocation of the moment. “An Immigrant Arriv[ing] at Ellis Island” tells his son he isn’t sure what they’ll do, but “[w]hen you grow up, though, who knows? This is America. Much is possible.” Burleigh’s text shamelessly wrings the emotion out of the event, frequently passing over from evocative to mawkish and favoring legend over fact (Rosa Parks’s history as an activist is strangely absent). Strachan’s dioramas feature oil-painted clay figures, whose often outsized heads situate themselves along a scale from cartoonish to grotesque. Endnotes (in a teeny-tiny typeface) go into more detail on each scene, but continue the one-note sentimentality. More well-meaning propaganda than real nonfiction. (Nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: June 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-8050-7082-6
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2004


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