Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Historical Fiction
Lady Liberty: A Biography

Lady Liberty: A Biography

Fall 2008 Historical Fiction
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Doreen Rappaport
Illustrator: Matt Tavares
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Hardcover Price: $17.99
Alert readers of the subtitle may well wonder at the idea of a biography of an undoubtedly famous but not exactly living...or even human...subject. Rappaport, however, has cleverly produced a fully rounded portrait of the Lady by profiling all those who surrounded her birth and/or were moved by her very presence once she came to rest on Bedloe's Island. Beginning with her own memory of a grandfather arriving from Latvia, she continues the story using a variety of voices-from the famous (Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor, Gustave Eiffel, the structural engineer, Emma Lazarus, the poet who wrote the now-famous inscription, & Joseph Pulitzer who fought tirelessly for funding) to the obscure (Charles P. Stone, who supervised the construction of the pedestal, and Florence de Forest, who contributed her two pet roosters to help pay for the project) and so illuminates the history of a symbol that today is synonymous with the United States. Tavares sumptuous, light-filled illustrations done in watercolor, ink and pencil, swoop in for close-ups (the scaffolding for Liberty's hand covers a page and a half) and draw back to sweep the entire skyline of New York City at the turn of the last century. He lifts readers' eyes up to the level of the Lady's face, then plunges down to the ground to stand at her base gazing skyward. A series of poignant quotes, a fascinating list of the statue's dimensions, a timeline of important dates in her history, a bibliography and a reading list conclude this handsome and moving tribute to a vision realized.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2008 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.

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