Cbr5bingo Picture this
I saw a blurb about this children’s book on July 4 and thought it sounded interesting, and it absolutely is. This is a story about the making and gifting of the Statue of Liberty. While it contains fascinating facts on every page, it is the attention to one detail — the statue’s right foot — that provides a powerful and moving message to the reader.
Her Right Foot is aimed at readers aged 5-9 and contains truly delightful art. It reminded me a bit of my childhood favorite writer/illustrator Miroslav Sasek. Artist Shawn Harris uses bright colors and bold lines to render landmarks of Paris and New York, the variety of people who immigrate to the US, and close-up details of the statue itself. Eggers’ text provides a chronology of the building of the statue, plus factual information about the builders and the statue. His text is very engaging and conversational, which again reminded me of Sasek’s travelogues for children. Eggers starts with the Frenchmen who dreamed up the Statue of Liberty – Edouard de Laboulaye and Frederic Auguste Bartholdi – and moves on to practical matters: materials used, where and how it was built and then moved to the US. One of the interesting new facts that I learned reading this book is that the greenish patina of the statue only appeared around 1920; until then, it had had a brownish, coppery hue, which must have been something to see. Eggers moves on to explain the symbolism of the statue: the crown, the tablet, the torch. But then he gets to the heart of the matter, the reason he wanted to tell you about the Statue of Liberty. Her right foot is in motion! If you are standing near the base, you can see the underside of her foot, lifting up to take a step forward. Eggers’ description of this and Harris’ illustration are quite moving. What does it mean that she is not standing still but striding out toward the ocean, having broken away from her chains? Well, a symbol of freedom cannot stand still.
“Liberty and freedom from oppression are not things that you get or grant by standing around like some kind of statue. No! These are things that require action. Courage. An unwillingness to rest.”
The pictures and words that accompany the rest of Her Right Foot are so lovely and powerful. They are exactly the kind of message I would want little kids to get, even though this is probably the kind of book that Moms for Liberty want to ban from libraries. But more importantly, it is a message to the grown-ups reading this book to children that they have an obligation to be acting and not standing idly like a statue. If we believe in the ideals of the Statue of Liberty- in freedom, the melting pot, the power of diversity- then that belief should spur us to action now more than ever. Her Right Foot is beautifully written and drawn, full of excellent factual information, and a reminder that we need to be actively engaged in safeguarding liberty for all who seek freedom in the US.