My Fourth of July by Jerry Spinelli; illustrated by Larry Day. 2019. Pencil, pen, and ink with watercolor and gouache. Published by Holiday House.
Brief summary: A young boy wakes up by the Fourth of July parade going by his house and runs out in his pajamas to join it. He comes back home and goes into the kitchen to see his father and mother getting ready for the picnic. They load up their red wagon and go down the street to the park to join other neighbors. There are activities all day that he enjoys every Independence Day. The night comes and the boy and his dog fall asleep in the wagon awaking later to fireworks. Everyone heads home walking up the streets to their houses.
Comments: Love this book! Both author and illustrator perfectly capture the celebration of the fourth with the traditional activities, the excitement, and all the neighbors coming together to celebrate this special day. There is a dominance of red, white, and blue colors that help set the mood of the book. Positive vibe. My favorite part was the two page layout of the town’s people sleepily returning home at the end of the fun-filled day.
Although the description on Amazon says this is a nostalgic book of the holiday, I found that not to be necessarily true. With the exception of the train, my town celebrates the 4th just like this. I felt that this book represents so many small towns in America on July 4th.
Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus; illustrated by Kadir Nelson. 2017. Oils. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers.
Brief summary: This patriotic poem celebrates the beauty and symbolism of the American flag with illustrations of the country’s people, land, and history.
Comments: This would be a nice book to share for Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, or Flag Day. The poem is short. The illustrations are full-paged and capture the face of the hopes many of the immigrants seek. Several of the people are working together for the same dreams and goals in their lives. This would be a good exercise for students to share what they think those dreams could be.
Brave Like Me by Barbara Kerley; illustrated by National Geographic. 2016. Photography.
Brief summary: This book depicts a variety of parents in different military branches saying good-bye to their children before deployment. It talks about how the children and soldiers cope with the worry and frustration of this separation. It encourages being brave and strong.
Comments: A narrative nonfiction. The large photos throughout include diversity of military branches, ethnic backgrounds, and female/male soldiers. I like how this was a very real book about employment and talks about the anxiety of separation for the children as well as the parents including how to cope in the days to follow. These are actual families and includes a world map to show where the soldiers were stationed. In the back of the book, there is a section on separation along with what brave means, who serves, a note to caregivers, and further resources sections. I’d like to see more patriotic books like this one. I plan to share this book with my students before Veterans’ Day.