cover image On the Day the Tall Ships Sailed

On the Day the Tall Ships Sailed

Betty Paraskevas. Simon & Schuster, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-82864-5

In a radical departure from their Junior Kroll stories, the Paraskevases offer a patriotic, even militaristic ode. On the Fourth of July, as stately tall ships journey up the Hudson River past modern Manhattan, a lone eagle joins their procession, a symbol come to life. Against a full-bleed background of water and sky, the bird is seen with wings outstretched. A twice-repeated refrain (""He was gallant, he was regal,/ Did you see that eagle,/ Eyes, canary diamonds in the sun?"") emphasizes the creature's imperial splendor; elsewhere, his feathers are likened to weaponry (""Did you see his armor shine,/ As the tall ships fell in line...?""). As the ships and the solitary eagle glide in unison, a crowd of mostly white adults waves American flags (""Were you proud/ To be there in the crowd...?""). When the eagle ""scream[s]"" above the noise of a ceremonial cannon blast, the text exhorts readers to think not of symbols but of ""flesh and blood and bone"": ""There were scars for times he failed,/ But on the day the tall ships sailed,/ Did you think of all the good things that he'd done?"" Betty Paraskevas includes sheet music for her drumlike text, while Michael Paraskevas's naturalistic, expansive acrylic paintings imply the eagle's (and America's) dominion over earth and air. Ages 5-8. (June)