Now, I don't usually review children's books. Because I don't usually read children's book...most likely because I have no children.
But, somewhere I read about this book and was compelled to buy a copy. I think that it is such a lovely book that I must tell you a bit about it and give it my recommendation...for children you know or maybe just for yourself.
Lady Liberty- A Biography is just what it says, the story of the Lady from the time that she was first conceived, up to her completion and beyond, in the experiences of those that first saw her upon their arrival in the United States. We start with Edouard de Laboulaye, a French professor of law in 1865, through the work of the sculptor Auguste Bartholdi, the engineer Gustave Eiffel, the poet Emma Lazarus and a number more. Some are very famous and some are surely unknown to us, but moving nevertheless. Those that dug the holes and those that gave their pennies...and their chickens...to see her completed. The story is told from the view point of 10 individuals who were involved with the Lady's construction, most stories spanning a two page spread, the text written in a narrow column, almost like poetry, and the rest taken up by the very beautiful illustrations of Matt Tavares.
It is a very personal book to Ms. Rappaport, as she explain in the first story. She tries to recreate how her own grandfather, sailing into NY harbor in search of a better life, having left behind in Latvia everyone and everything that was familiar to him, must have felt at the first sight of what has been to millions a symbol of the freedom and liberty they sought in America.
Arms reached out as if to caress her.
People lifted babies so they could see her.
Tears ran down my grandfather's face.
People around him were crying to.
And the a wave of cheering and hugging
swept over the ship.
Imagine for a minute what courage and determination these people, our ancestors, our great grandparents, and grandparents and my own father, must have had to leave their homes and their families, knowing for many, in the age before easy air plane travel, that they would never see them again. But the Lady was a symbol of their dreams; of owning their own home, of having a good job, of seeing their children go to college and have more opportunities than they had.
She ends with a few quotes from some emmigrants, of their first sight of the Lady. This one is from Olaf Holen, who arrived from Norway in 1909.
I was wondering as I looked at you “what is going to happen to me in this vast new land of America?” But you gave me courage....with the torch in your hand, pointing heavensward, and telling me as you have told millions of others, “You are welcome to this new land.”
A very nice book, a good introduction to the history of the Statue of Liberty and a fine reminder for us all.
Available from Amazon