Sparsely worded and rich in symbols, this oversize picture book speaks boldly, both visually and textually.
From the beginning, Nelson’s artistically vibrant images make clear associations between the elements of the American flag and both what they symbolize and the diverse cast of individuals who have contributed, in the past and present, to the freedoms we all enjoy as Americans. Naberhaus’ paired homophones, when considered with the illustrations, echo historical truths. For instance, “Sew together / Won nation,” with a young Betsy Ross sewing the first flag, appears across the gutter from “So together / One nation,” with a crowd of Americans displaying different ethnic, racial, gender, and age markers looking directly at readers. At every point, Naberhaus and Nelson claim America’s multiculturalism and pluralism as assets. Although some might consider this book patriotically didactic, its reliance on symbols leaves much for readers to fill in with their own knowledge and experience. And while this text would probably have been well-received at any time in the past, many adult and child readers will warmly welcome the way it embraces the idea of “e pluribus unum” at this particular historical moment. Notes from the author and illustrator and additional notes on the author’s website about the book provide extra material for classroom discussions.
Naberhaus and Nelson give new life to Old Glory for the youngest of readers. (Picture book. 3-7)