Awards for Liberty Rising
A Bank Street Best Books of 2007
LIBERTY RISING REVIEWS
The Horn Book: Dazzling pastels emphasize perspective and form, giving both life and bulk to this account of the building of the Statue of Liberty. Shea’s narrative begins with an author’s note that contextualizes the feat in a time before “cars and well before computers.” She goes on to tell exactly how that happened; how the brainchild of Edouard de Laboulaye was painstakingly made reality by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi; how the people of both the United States and France raised the money for the modern Colossus; how Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel designed the skeleton that supports the one-eighth-inch-thick copper skin”; how, once built, the statue was disassembled and shipped across the ocean to be rebuilt one last time.
The text eschews florid delivery, relying upon the accretion of fact upon fact to convey the awe-inspiring nature of the task. This provides a solid base for Zahares’s illustrations to soar, as they employ dizzying perspectives that position the reader at ground level or far above the action. Every line is monumental, startling distinctions between colors making the compositions almost abstract exercises in form, sharp angles amplifying the ever-present sense of structural beams rising into the air. An appended timeline of related facts, a pronunciation guide, and suggested reading round out the presentation.
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books: Plenty of ink has been devoted to children’s books on the Statue of Liberty, as Shea’s list for further reading attests, but it’s safe to say that no picture book sports the combination of fluent text and startling artwork that his title boasts. While Shea covers the expected ground…, she also notes several details that other accounts overlook, such as the design-tweaking to assure wind resistance, the economic benefits to Parisian businesses near the noisy work site, the designation of “lighthouse” that allowed the U.S. government to help pay for the installation of the statue. Nothing could be further from the cool, distanced majesty of Lynn Curlee’s Liberty than Zahares’ perspective-bending scenes in saturated, scorching greens, blues, and coppery oranges. With backgrounds forced forward and points of view reeling abruptly from above and below, the audience is swept into a more emotional ride than one usually associates with the sedate Lady Liberty, and a double-page foldout is nearly guaranteed to evoke a gasp or an “Ooh!” Yes, you already have Liberty books on your shelf, but yes, you probably need this one too. A timeline of interesting facts and a brief pronunciation guide are included, along with a list of recommended books.
School Library Journal: “Using the concept of building a house or an office building, Shea introduces the size and scale of creating such a large object. Readers meet Edouard de Laboulaye, the law professor who first had the idea of building a monument representing freedom that would be a gift to the people of the United States from the people of France. His early planning with Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi is highlighted. Each step in the process, from small model (four feet high) to full size is told in simple text. The dismantling of the statue, the 214 train cars that transported it to Rouen for the trip across the Atlantic, and its arrival in New York Harbor in 1885 are mentioned. Finally, the unveiling of the statue on October 28, 1886, is highlighted. The book is easy to read, with three-quarter spreads of illustration and single columns of text. The stylized graphic art is fairly realistic with bold colors and unusual angles to create a sense of excitement. They often have a collage effect. Two pages of interesting facts appear at the end of the book.”
Booklist: Lady Liberty's story is particularly resonant at this time of cooling relations between France and the U.S., and the statue, an icon of the American melting pot, provides a smooth entree to classroom discussions of our nation's founding ideals. Shea's picture book provides good coverage of the topic for children not yet ready for the longer narrative in Lynn Curlee's Liberty (2000). No more than three short paragraphs of text appear on every spread, set alongside scenes rendered in the same exuberant, wildly colored pastels as in Zahares' Window Music (1998) and Delivery (2001)…. A time line, pronunciation guides for French names, and titles for further reading will be appreciated by teachers and young researchers alike.”