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O, SAY CAN YOU SEE? by Sheila Keenan


America’s Symbols, Landmarks, and Inspiring Words

by Sheila Keenan & illustrated by Ann Boyajian

Age Range: 3 - 4

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-439-42450-X
Publisher: Scholastic

“The powerful symbols in this book stand for what the United States stands for: liberty, equality, and freedom.” The subtitle provides a gloss of the subject matter: places (Plymouth Rock, the White House, Washington Monument, Ellis Island), objects (the flag, Liberty Bell, the bald eagle), holidays, and documents. The high-minded effort provides a glossary (although without a definition of “steerage”), books to read, and an index, but no sources. Opening with a paragraph about the origin of the population, the author, editor, and publisher immediately demonstrate a major oversight: no mention of native populations before the Mayflower. Later: “The Declaration of Independence is the most important document in our nation’s history.” Some may think otherwise. The illustration of Jefferson’s writing desk on which he penned the Declaration has legs. It doesn’t have them and the genius of his portable desk is in its design and construction. Illustrations in color are as trite as the text. A new symbol (after the index)—“Remembering 9/11/01”—seems to be a late addition that doesn’t really fit. Overuse of the exclamation point is lazy and obviates the need for strong verbs. Not a necessary purchase. (Nonfiction. 3-4)