Before my librarian days I was an elementary school teacher. I taught 5th grade in North Carolina, and I absolutely love that grade curriculum and age. In 5th grade you learn about US history, and during that time this book came in handy for many different lessons. We even collaborated with the art and music teachers for a project.
Before my teacher days I was a park ranger in the Garden of the Gods. I mostly grew up in Colorado Springs, and the Garden of Gods and Pikes Peak has a special place in my heart. I hiked around Garden of the Gods as well as up Pikes Peak several times.
While I was a park ranger, wearing the polyester shirt and khaki shorts like all park rangers fashionably do, we taught visitors during tours about how Katharine Lee Bates was inspired to write the song, "America the Beautiful" from the summit of Pikes Peak. That little fact makes all Colorado Springs residents quite proud.
In the song the line, "Purple mountains majesties" is said to have been inspired by Pikes Peak. That mountain often looks quite majestic and purple in the morning light. It's stunning and worth a visit to Colorado Springs to see.
Chris Gall, a great-great grand nephew of Katharine Lee Bates, illustrated this beautiful picture of the Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak, and all of the pictures in the book. He took the song America the Beautiful and drew pictures for each line with significance to that particular line in the song.
Gall has pictures of the Statue of Liberty, heroes raising the flag at Ground Zero, the Tuskegee Airmen, and so much more.
All of the pictures have the same style and fit the line quite well. In the back of the book where the music and lyrics to the song appear there is also a page with information about each picture and why he chose it for that line.
I gave America the Beautiful illustrated by Chris Gall 5 out of 5 stars b/c it is simple with the beautiful pictures and lyrics on each page, and it has the information on each picture and music in the back. This book earned all of the stars for its beauty and simplicity, being great for the young and old, and it is perfect for teachers (music or classroom teachers) to use in lessons. The information found after the text is perfect for older kids and adults to get a little more out of the book, but the simplicity of just the song lyrics and pictures on each page is perfect for younger readers.
America the Beautiful can be enjoyed by preschoolers up to adults. It's a fabulous book of a beautiful patriotic song.
This book has value in the home as well as value in the classroom. I use this book with my toddlers to enjoy the beautiful pictures and patriotic song especially at this time of year, aka 4th of July. I used this book in the classroom to discuss the history of the song and the pictures in Social Studies as well as lead into a writing assignment.
Amazon had the following book review:
"The song "America the Beautiful" gets a striking treatment from illustrator Gall, who opens with an introduction to the words, which were written as a poem in 1893 by 24-year-old Bates. The words were set to several different pieces of music, until, finally, a tune, written many years earlier, became the accepted version. Just as those who hear the song feel inspired by the patriotic sentiments, children will be stirred by Gall's pictures. Using hand engraving on clay-covered board and enhancing elements such as color with a computer, he offers a series of pictures resembling woodcuts in form and WPA paintings in style. The images celebrate the history and beauty of the U.S. as they link to the lyrics. "God shed His grace on thee" is illustrated by a bird's-eye view of a snow-covered town with a church spire in a prominent position. The relatively obscure second verse offers opportunities for artwork featuring immigrants coming to America, and a picture of the Tuskegee Airmen accompanies a line about heroes. A key at the book's conclusion has postage-size reproductions of all the artwork along with brief descriptions. Gall is a distant relative of Katharine Bates; he does her work proud."
This book, America the Beautiful, is a beautiful book and especially perfect one to read at this time of year.
Happy Fourth of July!
Go pick up a great book to celebrate such a holiday; go pick up America the Beautiful.