cover image Uncle Sam and Old Glory: Symbols of America

Uncle Sam and Old Glory: Symbols of America

Delno C. West, Jean M. West. Atheneum Books, $17.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-82043-4

This meager volume offers brief, sometimes sketchy descriptions of 15 American emblems that range from specific objects (the Liberty Bell, the Mayflower) to more generic staples of American history and lore (the Pilgrim, log cabin, buffalo, cowboy). The Wests (Braving the North Atlantic) present some lively snippets of trivia, including an explanation of the lyrics to ""Yankee Doodle"" (e.g., ""macaroni"" was the name of a hairstyle fashionable in mid-18th-century London). Unfortunately, grammatical flaws and wordiness plague many of the entries; discussing ""the minuteman,"" the authors write, ""Unlike some nations where a full-time professional army protects its citizens, American soldiers serve a series of short-term enlistments and have always seen themselves as citizens trained to fight to protect their country."" And the text contains numerous throwaway generalizations: ""Today, no patriotic gathering would be complete without an appearance by someone dressed as Uncle Sam."" The high point of the book is Manson's (Black Swan/ White Crow) art. Painted woodcuts, these textured, predominantly earth-tone pictures successfully evoke various eras and are more likely than the text to stir feelings of patriotism in young readers. Ages 7-up. (Jan.)