From School Library Journal
Grade 3 Up–This stunning tour of America highlights 26 of the poet's favorite sights, which are as varied as the nation itself. Siebert's striking word choices and images reflect the essence of each subject, from the electric excitement of The El–(Chicago)look! right up there!/up in the air!–to the desolate landscape of the Badlands (South Dakota), cracked by frost and baked by sun/sliced and scarred where waters run. The collection features many surprises: the Aurora Borealis (Alaska) that flames/and/drapes/when solar winds are blowing and Bristlecone Pines (Nevada) where The slopes will still hold roots of trees/Whose gnarled limbs, bleached white as bones,/Attest to all the centuries/That shape the ancient bristlecones. A double-page map at the beginning of the book alerts readers to the exciting destinations they will experience, and a smaller map and inset box of additional information for each sight increase the educational value. Johnson masterfully varies his medium and art style to reflect the mood of each locale. There are quiet watercolors (American Town) and dynamic collages (The El) as well as pastels, oils, acrylics, and photos. An impressive List of Art and Mediums appears at the end of the book. This distinguished offering blends poetry, geography, art, and history.–Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI
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Gr. 4-7. From the Washington Monument to Mount Saint Helens, Siebert's latest poetry collection celebrates sights and structures unique to the United States. Each spread focuses on a state, pairing a poem with arresting, mixed-media artwork. The poems celebrate the man-made (the Las Vegas strip; Bemidji, Minnesota's giant Paul Bunyon statues) as well as natural beauty, such as Alaska's northern lights ("sweet sparks of wonder"). With a few exceptions, Siebert writes mostly in rhyming couplets, and the relentlessly bouncy meter sometimes distracts from the more contemplative selections, such as "Great Salt Lake." Still, the form works well for humorous poems, as in an opening selection that cleverly groups colorful town names in a rollicking, rhyming list: "Belchertown, Ben Station, Gas; / Homosassa, Sassafras." The accessible words, open design, and appealing geographic approach make the book ideal for classrooms. Johnson's impressively varied, sophisticated images of towns and landscapes may expand the book's audience to older art students. Steer younger children to Peter Sis'^B TheTrain of States
(2004). ^B Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved