Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lady Liberty: A Biography

Rappaport, Doreen. 2008. LADY LIBERTY: A BIOGRAPHY. Ill. by Matt Tavares. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 9780763625306 [Suggested Grade Levels 2–5]

In this unique look at the Statue of Liberty, each step of its design, construction and installation is chronicled. The author starts out with her grandfather’s trip from Latvia to New York and what “The Lady” meant to him – a better life in a new country after a treacherous trip across the ocean and away from his family. Readers may not know of the struggle to gain support for and raise money to build Lady Liberty.

Sidebars are paired with vivid illustrations and feature historical information from the perspective of many different people who worked together to bring the statue to New York. In France, visionary Edouard De Laboulaye sees the American constitution as a model for the world, and dreams of a gift to celebrate America’s 100 years of independence. Ten years later, Napoleon III no longer rules France and sculptor Auguste Bartholdi’s vision of a worthy statue is on its way to becoming a reality. Gustave Eiffel, the structural engineer, speaks of inspiration, “Liberté, égalité, and fraternité are in the air.”

The viewpoint moves to America, where Emma Lazarus is asked to write a poem that will be auctioned off to raise money, and publisher Joseph Pulitzer implores his readers to donate money. The personal accounts convey the passion and commitment to creating a monument that would stand forever as a symbol of freedom in America. Back matter includes written accounts from several immigrants, detailed statue dimensions, a timeline of events, notes from the author and illustrator, and an extensive source list.

Have readers create their own Lady Liberty and compare the size to the real thing. Older readers could research relatives that immigrated to New York and saw Lady Liberty as their first step to a new life.

Other books written by Doreen Rappaport:

By Tammy Korns

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