From School Library Journal
Grade 7-10-This collection of 61 poems and short literary pieces includes some of the poetic classics of American literature. Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, Carl Sandburg, Stephen Vincent Bent, and Langston Hughes are all represented. The poems are organized in seven, roughly chronological sections: "The Colonial Era," "The Struggle for Independence," "Young America," "From Slavery to Freedom," "The Expansion of the Nation," "Wars," and "Changing America." Helpful biographical paragraphs on each of the represented poets are appended. Most of the poems in the early sections are appropriate for all ages, but many selections in the last two sections are better suited for older students. Each section opens with a one- or two-page introduction to the important issues and events of the time period. History buffs will also notice a common historical inaccuracy. Meltzer states that North America was "...settled by Europeans beginning in 1607...," when in truth St. Augustine, FL, was settled in 1565. The introductory pages are adorned with folksy pen-and-ink drawings but the poems themselves are not illustrated and are left justified, leaving, at times, large blank areas. Lee Bennett Hopkins's Hand in Hand: An American History through Poetry (S & S, 1994) is similar to Hour of Freedom in content and organization, and contains appropriate and attractive watercolor illustrations throughout. It is targeted at a younger audience, but is a good choice for either age group.Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 6-12. Grouping both familiar and lesser-known works, Meltzer offers a "sampling of poetry's reponse to history." The poems appear in chronological sections, beginning with "The Colonial Era," then moving on through independence, expansion, slavery, war, and, finally, late-twentieth-century immigration. Readers, who will be encountering some selections for the first time, may be surprised by how many questions in the writings remain relevant today. The seminal works include not only poetry by Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman but also lyrics, hymns, and speeches, such as Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Each chapter begins with a simplified historical overview to give some context, with additional commentary heading each poem. Nadel's appealing ink drawings never overwhelm the words, and the placement of the works is thoughtful and sly: America the Beautiful
appears opposite Langston Hughes' I, Too
. Wide-ranging and powerful, these collected voices will bring students closer to the exciting lives, famous and anonymous, behind the historical facts. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved