cover image Hats Off for the Fourth of July

Hats Off for the Fourth of July

Harriet Ziefert. Viking Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-89118-4

Newcomer Miller's artwork provides the fireworks for this homage to the Independence Day parade, set in the Massachusetts seaside town of Chatham. Ziefert (When I First Came to This Land) describes the goings-on in stagnant verse that belies the gaiety of the proceedings. The predictable rhyming couplets suffer from occasionally strained rhyme schemes (town/around; boom/soon) and faltering rhythm (""Cowboys on horses yell out loud./ We all shout backDwhat a happy crowd""). Against solid-colored backgrounds, Miller whimsically tweaks traditional proportion, creating some stylized, angular images of people on unicycles, stilts and motorcycles. He peppers his paintings with playful particulars: a pooch purloins a twirler's baton, a uniformed George Washington look-alike appears in the crowd and one onlooker holds a pet rabbit on his lap. With images of a horse, a cow and even a clown straddling the turn of a page, the artist creates the feeling of an endless parade of marchers. This volume may well find an appreciative local audience, since the collaborators capture the flavor of this Cape Cod vacation spot (spectators cheer a car transformed into the shape of a whale; a lighthouse beacon pierces the night sky while fireworks explode overhead), yet the excitement of this holiday radiates more universally and warmly in Happy Birthday, America! (reviewed on p. 94). Ages 4-7. (May)