Celebration of America

AMERICANA ADVENTURE, by Michael Garland, Dutton, .99;
ages 4-8.

Grab a pencil and paper, number your pages and take the family on an adventure with Tommy as you travel through history. You might want to put some columns on your paper so you can list the presidents and coins as you find them. On each page, find where Aunt Jeanne is hiding and also look for the letters that spell a hidden message. See how many bald eagles and Uncle Sam’s hats you can spot. There are more than 200 items to find.

THE ART OF FREEDOM: HOW ARTISTS SEE AMERICA, by Bob Raczka, Millbrook Press, .26; ages 4-8.

A famous commercial depicted America as"Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.” What picture comes to your mind to represent our country? Raczka has put together a collection of 18 pictures representing artists whose works range from the late 1700s to today. Included is John Trumbull’s painting of the Declaration of Independence, a wood sculpture by Samuel Anderson Robb to represent baseball and an unfinished portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart to show America in progress. This is the ninth art book for children by Raczka, who was an art major at the University of Illinois and now lives in Glen Ellyn.

AN ARTIST’S AMERICA, by Michael Albert, Holt, .95; ages 8-12.

What do you do with empty cereal boxes, candy wrappers and other package labels? Albert recycles them in pop art pictures. Imagine a collage made with all candy wrappers in alphabetical order. He has done the Pledge of Allegiance and the Gettysburg Address using the letters cut out from packaging. When you cut up a Cheerios box in either strips or shapes and then paste them in a collage, you still recognize the pieces as coming from a Cheerios box. He used the same idea with Campbell’s soup labels, Cracker Jack and other cereals. If this sounds like a fun project, check out the instructions in the back of the book.

by Hudson Talbott, Putnam, .99; ages 4-8.

Every state has designated a state bird. In Illinois, ours is the Northern Cardinal. Each state bird shares some information about that state and funny trivia. Our Cardinal tells us that Illinois has two nicknames, The Prairie State and The Land of Lincoln. Our capital is Springfield. The Nabisco Company in Chicago is the world’s largest cookie factory.

SEE HOW THEY RUN: CAMPAIGN DREAMS, ELECTION SCHEMES AND THE RACE TO THE WHITE HOUSE, by Susan E. Goodman, illustrated by Elwood H. Smith, Bloomsbury, .95; ages 8-12.

Running for office, like everything else, has changed over the years and this book covers the long history of campaigns and elections. You’ll learn that long ago the candidates didn’t campaign, they hired people to do that. And that George Washington ran for the state legislature twice in Virginia and lost, but the third time he ran in 1758 he treated the voters to 160 gallons of alcohol and won. Or that the cost of campaigns became more expensive when the candidates started using television for advertising. In 1952 Dwight Eisenhower spent .6 million on his campaign. By 2004 the combined amount of 0 million was spent for TV time by John Kerry and George W. Bush. Included in the book is a picture of the 43 presidents with a fact about them. For instance, Andrew Johnson was illiterate when he got married and was taught to read and write by his wife. The next chapter will be added this fall. Who will be next?

Judy Belanger is Chicago Parent’s children’s book reviewer and a retired elementary learning resource center teacher with four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6.

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