Purple Mountain Majesties

“…Using original sources, Younger makes a living character out of Bates, whose quirks and full-bodied charm gracefully flow from the letters and diary excerpts. Schuett’s illustrations, with their slightly exaggerated forms and saturated colors capture not only the “fruited plains” and “alabaster cities’, but vistas of Bates’ hometown of Falmouth, and intimate scenes of her cozy bedside table, and parlor where she welcomed guests….”

–Kirkus, pointer review

“Gr. 3-5, younger for reading aloud. Traveling westward by train in 1893 to lecture at a college in Colorado, Katherine Lee Bates, a New England writer, stopped to view Niagara Falls and the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, spent the Fourth of July rolling past Kansas wheat fields, and watched the Rockies loom. Shortly after her arrival, she rode with friends to the top of lofty Pikes Peak–and turned all of her observations into the poem that has become our other national anthem. After delving into Bates’ papers and corresponding with her descendants, Younger offers an energetic account of Bates’ early life, interspersed with lines from her diary and other writings, then goes on to describe the poem’s creation and how it came to be set to music. Using luminous stained-glass colors, Schuett depicts a series of American scenes and vistas for viewers and shows Bates as a sturdy, confident figure in regal purple and practical-looking wire-rim glasses. Match this enlightening, engaging picture book for older readers with Steven Kroll’s grand and earnest account of the composition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” By the Dawn’s Early Light (1994), illustrated by Dan Andreasen.


Mystery In The Stable

“Children who like following a trail of clues will enjoy this approach to the Nativity story, narrated by a young brother and sister from the town of Bethlehem. Jacob and Anna live near the inn, and they watch from their rooftop as travelers pass by on their way to their hometowns to be counted for the census. As the children observe and discuss the stream of visitors, a man and woman arrive at the inn with a donkey and, after talking to the innkeeper, enter the stable. Jacob and Anna take note of some unusual activities and supplies being taken into the stable: a blanket, a lamp, food and water. The children receive permission to sleep on their roof that night so that they can try to solve this mystery. After observing the arrival of three shepherds, the children visit the stable themselves, where they meet Mary and Joseph and discover the solution to the mystery: the Christ Child. Sun-washed illustrations in a warm palette of gold and lavender suggest the hot climate of the area, and careful research is evident in costumes and setting.” (Picture book. 5-8)