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We Came To America Hardcover – May 10, 2016
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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From School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—As Americans wrestle with the moral and legal aspects of immigration, Ringgold offers a reminder of the country's multifaceted lineage—and of the beauty to be discovered at cultural crossroads. The artist has repurposed a title she applied in 1997 to a story quilt; it featured a revolt on a slave ship whose beacon was a black Statue of Liberty. Here she broadens her scope. After she acknowledges that "some of us were already here" and "some of us were brought in chains," her free verse unfolds with a line or two on each page touching on reasons for immigration and the solace and joy found in sharing "our food, our fashion, and our art…." A refrain emphasizing the country's ethnic and religious plurality punctuates the occasionally rhyming stanzas. The poem is paired with tableaux of families from various time periods and places, as if their portraits were captured the moment they stepped on American soil. Vibrant paint on canvas provides a changing, high contrast backdrop for the parade of patterns and styles, from the bold geometrics of African cloth and the pinstriped suits and fedoras of Europe to the decorative tunics and elaborate headdresses of Eastern communities. A final scene depicting a gathering of diverse children concludes that despite differences, "we are ALL Americans,/Just the same." While the message is a time-honored one, it clearly needs to be foregrounded. VERDICT The simplicity of Ringgold's text, combined with the captivating designs, makes this a compelling, must-have narrative for a wide audience.—Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library
“The simplicity of Ringgold’s text, combined with the captivating designs, makes this a compelling, must-have narrative for a wide audience.”—School Library Journal starred review
“Using a broad brush and folk style familiar from her story quilts, Ringgold pictures families of diverse heritage… her powerful voice emphasizes unity and mutual appreciation.”
“[A] timely look at the diverse makeup and backgrounds of the American people.” –Booklist
Top customer reviews
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This is a good reminder to all readers, youth and adult, that we must stand up for the American ideal "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Each of us must work to ensure that all Americans enjoy equal freedoms. Equality is a group endeavor.
Adoption-attuned Lens: Kids who have been adopted internationally may especially appreciate this retelling of the universality of our nation's immigrant roots. Starting a conversation on this topic would be easy.
—Gayle H. Swift, “ABC, Adoption & Me, A Multicultural Picture Book”
The book doesn't really cover what happens once the immigrants arrive, however, which feels a little disingenous, but I suppose the book would have to be a fair bit longer to add in that tough information.
I've really only got two main complaints here. First the book starts off with a stumble, as Riinggold says that "we came to America, every color, race, and religion," and then points out the native tribes, noting "some of us were already here." It feels a bit like the story of the native tribes is being washed away a bit, there. Also, the book ends with a single-page reprinting of the story's text as a poem. I'm not sure why this was necessary, except for length padding? I'd have much preferred a little page or two on the immigration process through the ages.
Overall, okay. Good for a school unit on diversity, but not one I'd really insist needs to be in such a unit. There's plenty of books out there that cover the subject of moving to a new country, and this one merely looks at thing from a broad view, which might be hard for younger kids to understand. I'd far and ahead recommend books focusing on individuals, rather than the entire concept of immigration.
#mustread #diversity #Americans #meltingpot #PB #rhyme