America the Beautiful
Author: Katharine Lee Bates; Illustrator: Chris Gall
Pages: 32
Publisher/Date: Little, Brown/2004
ISBN: 0316737437
Age Levels: All

Book Review

In the preface to this extraordinarily beautiful picture book, Chris Gall writes:
More than one hundred years ago, in 1893, a young poet named Katharine Lee Bates sat high atop Colorado's Pike's Peak and was overcome by the vast beauty and unlimited potential of a young nation . . . Inspiration turned to words, and thus "America the Beautiful" was born.
The poem was eventually set to music, and has become a revered national treasure.

Double-page spreads are found throughout. On the left-hand page, a line of verse is printed in large, italicized text. A bordered, full-page piece of artwork graces the right-hand page. The hand-engraved illustrations, reminiscent of woodcuts, are awash in golden yellows, blues, greens, and browns.

Gall has done a superb job of pairing the artwork with the lines of verse. "O beautiful for heroes proved / In liberating strife," for example, is accompanied by a picture of a World War II plane manned by Tuskegee airmen. "And crown thy good with brotherhood / From sea to shining sea!" sits opposite an illustration of Sacajawea in a canoe, helping the Lewis and Clark expedition navigate the Missouri River.

Classroom Uses: While perfect for one-on-one reading or sharing with a group, consider this title also for the upper-elementary and middle grades. The illustrations, historical in nature, would make wonderful writing prompts.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis
©2005 Education Oasis

About the Author

Katharine Lee Bates was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts, on August, 12, 1859. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College in 1880, and in 1891 she went on to become professor of English, and later, head of the English department at her alma mater. She continued to publish poetry as well as literary criticism throughout her life. In 1925 she retired after forty years of teaching. She died in 1929.

About the Illustrator

Chris Gall is a great-great-grandnephew of Katharine Lee Bates. He grew up with the lyrics of "America the Beautiful" hanging on his living room wall and has been drawing and painting ever since he was a child. He lives with his wife, Ann, in Tucson, Arizona.