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WE ARE AMERICA by Walter Dean Myers Kirkus Star

WE ARE AMERICA

A Tribute from the Heart

By Walter Dean Myers (Author) , Christopher Myers (Illustrator)

Age Range: 8 & up

Pub Date: May 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-052308-4
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

The Myers team shares their heartfelt and stirring vision of an America flawed but filled with promises and dreams. Like weavers connecting warp and woof, father threads lofty words and son paints seamless pictures. Each double-page spread contains a brief poem and usually a quote from a relevant document or person. A mural rendered in pastels spans both pages. Homage is paid to young people; Native Americans; immigrants from Europe, Africa and Asia; laborers, protesters, soldiers and performers. “We were willing to die to forge our dream” writes Walter Dean Myers while Chris Myers paints snarling dogs attacking civil rights protesters and colonial patriots throwing tea into Boston Harbor. Juxtaposed with this are the opening line to the Constitution and King George’s words granting independence. In another tableau, a slave shows his terribly scarred back, Indians lie dead at Wounded Knee and Japanese-American citizens stand behind barbed wire, but Americans learned to “light the darkness with the blazing torch that is the Constitution.” Backmatter credits each quotation and identifies the people in each painting. The poetry and the paintings will be an excellent jumping-off point for discussions. Readers will take every opportunity to pause and reflect and trace their fingers along the glorious artwork. Stunning. (Picture book/poetry. 8 & up)