Tuesday, April 7, 2009
America at War
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2008. AMERICA AT WAR. Ill. by Stephen Alcorn. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1416918329 [Suggested Grade Levels 4–12]
AMERICA AT WAR is a beautiful, moving collection with more than fifty poems and paintings divided into eight sections featuring each “American” war, from the American Revolution to the Iraq War. Classic poems by the likes of Walt Whitman and Carl Sandburg appear alongside contemporary voices such as Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard.
However, the book is not about war, as Hopkins points out in his poignant introduction. “It is about the POETRY of war…. AMERICA AT WAR presents the raw emotions of warfare as seen and felt by poets.” The design and layout of the book is also perfectly tuned to the tone of the book, with each poem appearing to be engraved upon the large, creamy page accompanied by expansive watercolor illustrations that convey a historical sweep evoking the WPA murals of the past. Together, the poems and art capture both specific details of each conflict as well as deep and tender emotions that sadly cross the ages.
If you feel comfortable leading a discussion about this topic, some young people may want to share their stories about friends or family members serving in the military.
Students can create powerful audio-visual presentations through video (VizzVox) or PowerPoint, adding images of war to a taped reading of their favorite poem selection from the book.
Other anthologies on U.S. history and geography by Lee Bennett Hopkins:
HAND IN HAND: AN AMERICAN HISTORY THROUGH POETRY. ISBN 067173315X
HOME TO ME: POEMS ACROSS AMERICA. ISBN 0439560691
LIVES: POEMS ABOUT FAMOUS AMERICANS. ISBN 006027767X
MY AMERICA: A POETRY ATLAS OF THE UNITED STATES. ISBN 0689812477
By Sylvia M. Vardell