This Is America
The American Spirit in Places and People
American history is more than names and dates . . .
In 1620, 88 settlers left England and landed near Plymouth, Massachusetts. They came to the New World seeking religious freedom, a right that Americans still protect almost 400 years later. Plymouth Rock stands today as a reminder of our nation's foundations in freedom.
Courage. Equality. Education for all. These are some of the ideals that make up the American spirit—ideals we see expressed throughout our nation's history. From the entrepreneurial spirit of Madame C. J. Walker, to the liberty colonists fought for at Concord Bridge, to the hardships faced by Japanese-Americans at Manzanar, This Is America highlights people and places that epitomize the American Spirit.
Christine Joy Pratt's bold illustrations capture the beauty of our country and idealism of the people—past and present—who have worked to make the U.S. a nation that thrives on diversity, creativity, and ingenuity.
Look Inside the Book:
Author & Illustrator Bios:Don Robb, author
Don Robb is a former teacher and a dedicated history buff. He is the author of Hail to the Chief: The American Presidency. He lives in Andover, Massachusetts.
Read more about Don.
Christine Joy Pratt, illustrator
Christine Joy Pratt has illustrated several books and articles for children, includingSea Queens and Pua’s Paniolo Parade(Island Heritage). She lives in Kaneohe, Hawaii.Read more about Christine Joy Pratt.
Awards & Honors:
- NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
- IRA Children's Book Award Notables
School Library Journal
This title highlights 13 ideals inherent in American life, including diversity, the creative spirit, free enterprise, education for all, hard work, legal rights equality, etc. A lavishly illustrated spread is devoted to each one. The attribute is introduced in a paragraph followed by descriptions of people to read about or places to visit. For example, the section on legal rights discusses Federal Hall Memorial in New York City and union leader Cesar Chavez. The large, bold, scratchboard-and-watercolor art sometimes has a clever twist--the Capitol Building is depicted with a friendly face; a red, white, and blue tie; and an upper portico that turns into an arm holding children. This is a lovely browsing title for students interested in different parts of the U.S. and the variety of people and places that have contributed to its history and culture, and teachers might want to use it for a project on values. The further reading suggestions include nonfiction titles by such authors as Jean Fritz, James Cross Giblin, and Patricia and Fred McKissack. An appealing way to explore U.S. history and democracy.
Library Media Connection
The author has done an excellent job of conveying his theme, the American spirit, by presenting a rich selection of people and places from American history. The patchwork of elements is creatively anchored under a succession of concepts like liberty, equality, diversity, hard work, etc. For example, under "Education for All" we learn about the one-room schoolhouse, Oberlin College, the Tuskeegee Institute, and the McGuffey reader. Each example is presented succinctly, in easily understood language, with a background of plenty of white space for an uncluttered effect. The delightfully upbeat scratchboard illustrations contribute to the book's appeal. The people and places structure allows for an eclectic collection including such diverse people as Thomas Jefferson, Christa McAuliffe, and Madame C.J. Walker, as well as places like Disney's Magic Kingdom, Fort Sumter, and the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. While the book is certainly a tribute to America, it does say, "There have been times when we American have forgotten our ideals." The Manzanar internment camp is included in this section. The book would be a valuable resource for teachers wanting to present a dramatic or artistic presentation of American history. A useful chronology is provided as well as a resource section including many books by well-known children's authors. This is a positive introduction to American history.
Journal of Children's Literature
The true essence of the American spirit is captured in this informative account of people, places, and ideals. Through 13 different vantage points, the author includes succinct information about the people, places, and events that will appeal to readers. Offset by scratchboard illustrations, this collection will serve as a rich resource for classroom teachers and contains websites and additional reading lists for further classroom inquiry.
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Page count: 32
8 1/2 x 11