Her Right Foot

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“Do to others as you want them to do to you. This is the meaning of the law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets.”
-- Matthew 7:12

 

“I got stopped by the immigration man
He says he doesn’t know if he can
Let me in”
-- Graham Nash, “Immigration Man” (1972)

 

“Here is a rendering of Bartholdi and his team--he had a team; he did not work alone; he did not like working alone--constructing the statue’s hand.
Notice that the hand is bigger than these men. Thus they made the statue in many parts.
These parts were assembled in New York City.
No, wait. First they were assembled in Paris. Did you know this? Ask your friends and even your teachers if they knew that before the Statue of Liberty was assembled in New York, she was first constructed in Paris. Your friends and teachers will be astounded. They will be impressed. They might think you are fibbing.
But you are not fibbing. This really happened. The Statue of Liberty stood there, high above Paris, for almost a year, in 1884.
After they assembled the statue in Paris, they took it apart.
‘But we just put it together!’ the workers said.
‘That is absurd,’ they said.
They said all this in French, the language of the French, a people who appreciate the absurd.”

 

HER RIGHT FOOT is a fascinating, moving, often-comical, and thought-provoking illustrated history of the Statue of Liberty.
One fact I learned is that Lady Liberty, who is made of copper, like pennies and like the water pipes in most homes, did not oxidize (turn greenish-blue) until around 1920. This means that the Statue of Liberty was actually brown, not greenish-blue, when my Sicilian grandparents crossed the ocean and arrived in New York at the end of the nineteenth century.
As one who has beloved young friends who are “Dreamers,” and others who are Muslim, I am constantly rattled by the stark contrast between what I learned in elementary and middle school about the American ideals of inclusiveness, and the nativist, white supremacist sentiment that now emanates from the White House and echoes across our land. HER RIGHT FOOT is a great reminder of why the US acquired the reputation of the modern world’s promised land, and why we should be courageous and unyielding so as to make those ideals reality.
“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.”
The book is titled HER RIGHT FOOT because, after presenting this engaging history lesson, the author focuses on the fact that the Statue was created with Lady Liberty in mid-stride. He theorizes that this was done purposefully to depict the need for constant forward movement to remain the shining beacon of hope for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses, that we believe we are.
Shawn Harris’s construction paper and India ink illustrations feature a lively multicultural cast. There is plenty of humor in the illustrations, too, such as a spread in which the Frenchman who conceived of the statue explains his vision to Bartholdi.  He’s got a menu under one arm and raises a banana in his other hand (while, between the two men, a dog is intent on stealing the unguarded croissant on the table).
Given the philosophical depth and the witty presentation, HER RIGHT FOOT is perfect for middle grade children.
104 pages    978-1-4521-6281-2    Ages  8-12

Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS, California USA

See more of his recommendations: http://richiespicks.pbworks.com

******** If you had to name a statue, any statue, odds are good you'd mention the Statue of Liberty. Have you seen her?

She's in New York. She's holding a torch. And she's in mid-stride, moving forward. But why? In this fascinating, fun take on nonfiction, Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris investigate a seemingly small trait of America's most emblematic statue. What they find is about more than history, more than art. What they find in the Statue of Liberty's right foot is the powerful message of acceptance that is essential to an entire country's creation. --from the publisher

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