From School Library Journal
Grade 3-5–Wilson serves up a celebration of our country, its founders, and the immigrants who built it with this rhyming recipe. With frequent references to America the Beautiful, the tribute includes tangible geographic ingredients such as fruited plains, fields/of amber grains, and purple mountain majesties. Less-tangible fixings include meekness, might, courage, liberty, justice, freedom, dreams, forgiveness, and customs/from faraway lands. As the bakers add these essentials, the larger-than-life pie rises in its cast-iron melting pot. While the rhymes are clever, they are also saccharine: The secret ingredients/cannot be bought,/so borrow/from Heaven above./The key to it all/is to pour in the pot/plenty of/faith, hope, and love. Colón's signature cross-hatched ink-and-watercolor illustrations, both sunny and whimsical, are the key ingredient in this otherwise syrupy dish. An amiable cat and dog sporting chefs' hats first preheat the world–a giant globe over a campfire–and then consult a cookbook, roasting wieners while they wait. A huge rolling pin flattens fields where giant apples, pears, and berries dwarf two grazing cows. Immigrants in period costume, suitcases and American flags in hand, free fall into a safety net guarded by the furry bakers. Observant readers will spy the strategically placed American symbols including the bald eagle, Statue of Liberty, White House, Mount Rushmore, and Columbus's ships. Kelly DiPucchio's Liberty's Journey
(Hyperion, 2004), which features striking art by Richard Egielski, covers similar ground with less sentimentality. Use this title to introduce immigration units.–Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools
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*Starred Review* Fans of Colon's elegant artwork will be surprised and delighted to find that he has taken his pictures to a place of whimsy that will have immediate appeal for the youngest children. The vehicle for the art is a highly original one: a recipe for America, beginning with "Preheat the world until fiery hot with a hunger and thirst to be free." Wilson's instructions then include "pat out a crust of fruited plains," "measure out meekness and might," "spice with ideas seasoned with dreams," and "place in God's grace and allow to rise." Some artists might have chosen a more reverential approach, but Colon goes a different way. His cooks are a cat and a dog, and in these watercolor-and-ink paintings, the action rolls across the spreads in all sorts of fantastical ways. Purple mountain majesties grow out of teacups, and the cooks pull rainbows out of a sky studded with stars and stripes. In one delightfully evocative picture, immigrants of many countries (including a Pilgrim) fall from the sky, suitcases in hand. They land in a safety net held by the cat and dog. Kudos to the book's designer, whose use of white space and typeface enhance every aspect of the book. Pair this wild, wonderful celebration with The Glorious American Songbook
(2005), a tribute to the U.S. in song, and Robert Sabuda's America the Beautiful
(2004), a pop-up book for a slightly older crowd. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved