cover image Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters

Barack Obama, illus. by Loren Long, Knopf, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-83527-8

Already the author of two books for adults, President Obama turns toward young Americans with this picture book tribute to 13 men and women—and corresponding qualities of character—that demonstrate the nation's best. Written before he took office, the book directly addresses daughters Sasha and Malia, who appear throughout, joined by young versions of Georgia O'Keeffe, Helen Keller, Sitting Bull (a selection that's already generating controversy), Neil Armstrong, and the rest—a tangible reminder that every hero, artist, and explorer was once a child. Obama asks a series of questions, followed by poetic descriptions of each famous American. "Have I told you that you don't give up?" appears opposite Martin Luther King, Jr., hands joined in solidarity with civil rights supporters; "Have I told you to be proud to be American?" accompanies a winter scene of General George Washington encouraging a trio of soldiers ("He helped make an idea into a new country, strong and true"). On the left side of each spread, the growing chorus of children faces Long's paintings—by turns majestic, whimsical, and rousing—as though watching history unfold. The group is highly diverse, both in backgrounds and accomplishments, creating a collective portrait of citizens' inspiration, dedication, and bravery. Ages 3–up. (Nov.)