ONLY BEAUTIFUL, NURTURING PICTURE BOOKS FOR ALL AGES

Here is a reminder, America:
Her Right Foot


We have established a sort of habit over here for when dad travels for work: instead of getting souvenirs or other things/gifts, we get the girls a book about the place he visited.
It turned out to work well, it is a way to engage them in a positive way in dad's departure and to reconnect with him upon his return, also processing new geographic information.
This time it was New York City. We have a few books about NYC including this, which is one to get lost in.
Our nearly 4 year old knows the continents and their names, can locate the United States of America on the globe, can even point at New York City on the globe. But is that it?
She had been told a few facts about Manhattan, and it was the Statue of Liberty that sticked in her mind the most.
Of course it did, it's a giant statue of a lady wearing a crown in the middle of the sea. 
But the Statue of Liberty is much more than a national monument, it's a symbol of freedom and enlightenment, it was put there to celebrate 100 years from the Declaration of Independence, it's the ultimate National Monument of America.

This book has an original take on non-fiction and it's great to drive even young children's interest onto a part of America's history and beyond, touching increasingly current and important big themes like freedom, civil rights and emigration.
Words by best-selling American writer Dave Eggers and art by talented Shawn Harris are equally strong and beautifully interconnected, making Her right Foot a deeply engaging read.




The book is packed with information and interesting facts about the story of the Statue of Liberty (who designed it, how and when it got there, what her clothes represent, what it is made of, etc) explained with a good dose of humour, which I found at times unneccessary though, since young children cannot really process correctly sarcasm and irony.


Like here,
here,
and here.
Ok maybe older children will find it funny to think about the Statue of Liberty having a walk in Manhattan and spreading panic:) but this one too sounded slightly over the top to me while reading aloud. 
Children below the age of ten can actually understand some type of irony (Quentin Blake books are full of irony and visual humour) but not when it's built on cultural stereotypes that they don't naturally have nor can master.
Apart from these few bits which is up to you whether to keep or skip, the narration is fun and engaging: Eggers talks directly to the readers and goes through the information as if he was just sitting next to them telling a story.
After going through the fun facts about the statue, Eggers gets to the point and drives the attention to something no-one ever talks about: her right foot. The Statue's right foot is raised, and the entire right leg is in mid-stride.
The statue is usually reproduced in souvenirs as still,  but she is actually moving. Moving to go where?

Here is an idea.
Here is a theory.
Here is a reminder.
If the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of freedom,
if the Statue of Liberty has welcomed millions of immigrants to the United States,
then how can she stand still?
Liberty and freedom from oppression are not things you get or grant by standing around
like some kind of statue. No! These are things that require action. 
Courage. An unwillingness to rest. [...]

In the last few pages humour gives way to an increasingly heartfelt and earnest narration, reinforced by powerful, emblematic illustrations.
Together, words and images resonate incredibly well with children,  and do the difficult job of showing how the United states have historically welcomed and protected diversity and civil rights,
and reminding America that this cannot end.

Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris have worked together on a second book 'What can a citizen do?' that will be out in September 2018.
-
Her Right Foot [2017] [Il suo piede destro]
by Dave Eggers
illustrated by Shawn Harris
English edition by Chronicle Books
Italian edition by Mondadori
Reading age: 4+
Themes: Freedom, Acceptance, Diversity, Non-Fiction










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