Reviews for Of Thee I Sing : A Letter to My Daughters


Booklist Reviews 2010 December #2
*Starred Review* If Barack Obama wants to quit his day job (and maybe he might), he can probably make it as a children's book author. Certainly, this is a beautiful package: thoughtfully conceived, handsomely illustrated and designed, and with a tight yet evocative text that brings children into the world of 13 famous Americans. Framed as a letter to his daughters ("Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?" the book begins), each double-page spread then asks a question that is exemplified by a person of note. "Have I told you that you are creative?" introduces Georgia O'Keeffe, who "helped us see big beauty in what is small: / the hardness of stone and the softness of feather." Most of the people briefly profiled are expected names--George Washington, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, CÚsar Ch├ívez--but there are a few outliers here as well, including Billie Holiday and Sitting Bull. As the spreads turn, other children join (the unnamed) Malia and Sasha on the question page, each embodying their own special gifts and talents. Long's exceptional artwork has a timeless, Rockwellian quality that serves the text well, and the congregation of the children at the book's conclusion will have readers looking and looking again. An addendum features a bit more about each person highlighted. Parents will be happy to talk to their own children about how creative or kind or strong they are and reiterate, as the president does, their place in the American family. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
With the conceit of providing inspiration to his daughters, Obama presents thumbnail portraits of thirteen notable Americans, from George Washington to Jackie Robinson to Maya Lin. The writing is sometimes heavy-handed, but the array of subjects is thoughtful. Long's emotive acrylic paintings and a smart book design have more pull than the text. Brief biographies of the subjects are appended. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Library Media Connection Reviews 2011 August/September
The many hopes all parents have for their children as they grow are captured in this tender tale profiling thirteen notable figures in American history. The diverse cast of heroes includes artists, scholars, philanthropists, activists, and athletes, each of whom demonstrates a personal quality that the author assures his children they also possess. Young readers and listeners will be inspired by people who have helped build America and hopeful about their own future achievements and contributions. Long's insightful and often whimsical artistic touches greatly enhance the story. Each spread depicts a famous person and image from our nation's history but also adds a new child to a growing crowd gathered to hear the author's message of inspiration and hope. The book ends with a page of one-paragraph biographies for each historical figure mentioned, giving it a strong educational component and making it a good starting point for classroom discussion and research. In all, this is an engag ng, multi-layered and beautifully presented story that children will come back to again and again. Jenny MacKay, Children's Author, Sparks, Nevada [Editor's Note: Available in e-book format.] HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ┬Č 2011 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 January

Gr 2-5--In characteristically measured prose, the 44th President introduces 13 American icons and heroes as exemplars of personal virtues, from Georgia O'Keeffe (creativity) and Jackie Robinson (courage) to Helen Keller (strength) and Cesar Chavez (inspiration). Though he includes Billie Holiday in his gallery (a gifted singer, but an iffy role model) along with a free translation of Chavez's !Si se puede! as "Yes, you can!" (which was his campaign slogan: the official UFW version is a more accurate but stiffer "Yes, it can be done!"), Obama offers general but cogent summations of why each figure merits admiration--Martin Luther King Jr., for instance, "taught us unyielding compassion," and Helen Keller, "never waiting for life to get easier," "gave others courage to face their challenges." Long's superb technical gifts and gentle sense of humor shine in the pictures. Posed nobly and, usually, hard at work in full-page scenes, each man or woman also appears as a willowy but recognizable child on the facing and following pages, joining a growing crowd of young observers gazing across the center stitching and exchanging symbolic tools of their various trades. Their ranks swelled with more children, these younger versions turn to face viewers on the penultimate spread, followed by a closing painting of the author walking with his daughters and a page of reasonably accurate historical notes. As well as offering thought-provoking choices and commentary, this stately outing leads naturally to Lynne Cheney's more populous America: A Patriotic Primer (S & S, 2002) as first introductions to our country's great ones.--John Peters, formerly at New York Public Library

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