cover image America the Beautiful

America the Beautiful

Katherine Lee Bates, Katharine Lee Bates. Atheneum Books, $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-31861-0

A Wellesley professor's trip to Pikes Peak in 1893 inspired the now-famous verse extolling the American landscape; Waldman ( Light ; Bring Back the Deer ) writes that his own travels west instilled in him an awe of ``beauty beyond the realm of imagination.'' Using Bates's verse as his text, Waldman paints scene after scene, matching every phrase to a specific locale (these are identified in a well-designed key at the end). He pays homage to the ``spacious skies'' (above the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee), the ``purple mountain majesties'' (the Grand Tetons) and the ``fruited plains'' (the Napa Valley). Impressively and imaginatively, he conveys his wonder at natural beauty by stylizing his art: he renders each vista in thick, impressionistic strokes from a predominantly violet palette, choosing his colors as if from a paradigmatic sunset. Beautiful indeed. All ages. (July)