July 4 – Independence Day

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About the Holiday

On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies that then made up America claimed their independence from England. After much debate and with a majority—but not unanimous—vote, delegates to the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. While the vote may not have been unanimous, delegates from all 13 colonies signed the document penned by Thomas Jefferson. John Hancock, who was President of the Continental Congress, signed his name “‘with a great flourish’ so England’s ‘King George can read that without spectacles!’” The action led to the Revolutionary War and ultimately to a break with England.

On this United States national holiday most cities host parades, fireworks displays, and other special events.

Lady Liberty’s Holiday

Written by Jen Arena | Illustrated by Matt Hunt

 

Shortly before the Fourth of July Lady Liberty is feeling down. Year after year she has stood in the same place holding aloft a torch in one hand and cradling a tablet in the other. She turns to her friend Moe, the pigeon on her shoulder, and expresses her dissatisfaction. Moe has a suggestion: “‘Lady, you need a getaway!’” Lady Liberty thinks about it and about the vastness of America. She has only seen a small corner of it. That night Lady Liberty pries herself from her pedestal and sneaks away.

She walks the wide beaches of New Jersey, builds a huge sandcastle on Massachusetts’ Cape Cod, and dips her feet in Niagara Falls. With her long strides it doesn’t take her long to reach the Mississippi River. She finds a seat atop the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri and watches the Ol’ Man river slip past. In Kansas she plays in wheat fields that “tickle her feet” and are as good for making angels as snow. In South Dakota she photo bombs at Mount Rushmore, and she takes a quick hike over the Rocky Mountains. After all this fun Lady Liberty needs a rest, so she takes a nap on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

But the people in New York have noticed the Lady’s absence. The Fourth of July is only three days away and no one is in the mood to celebrate without her. “Tourists were gloomy. Cops were cross. Even the stock market was down.” The mayor is even considering cancelling the holiday! Moe is worried Liberty might not come back.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-lady-liberty's-holiday

Image copyright Matt Hunt, courtesy of Jen Arena (jenarenabooks.com)

And Moe is right! Lady Liberty is enjoying herself too much to think about returning. The grandeur of the Grand Canyon makes her feel small—it’s a nice change, she thinks. She drinks water from a geyser in Yellowstone Park and sleeps under the stars in Texas. With a hop and a skip she’s dancing in New Orleans, and the Florida Keys make excellent “stepping stones” to her next adventure. She doesn’t even mind schlepping through swamps in the deep south, and an alligator that latches onto her toe is dispatched with a shake.

Lady Liberty suddenly hears the familiar flap of Moe’s wings. Moe tells Liberty how things are in New York. When she hears that they are thinking of cancelling the Fourth of July, she “bolts up as if she’d been struck by lightning.” Yes, says, Moe. “‘Nobody feels like celebrating without you.’” But after her cross-country tour, Lady Liberty knows that “‘the Fourth of July isn’t about me. It’s about America!’” Without another thought Liberty is racing north.

As New Yorkers wake at dawn, they see Lady Liberty happy to be back overlooking the Harbor, “where she had stood for over a hundred years.” Her copper dress shines in the early morning sun. Later that night she glows again in the colors of fireworks and enjoys a very Happy Fourth of July!

The final two pages tell the story of Lady Liberty’s creation, installation, and meaning. Tantalizing tidbits about the statue of Liberty are also revealed.

Jen Arena’s Lady Liberty’s Holiday is an engaging introduction to the story of the Statue of Liberty and American geography. A road trip across America was once a staple of childhood, and Arena replicates the excitement and wonder of viewing the country’s monuments and splendor through Lady Liberty’s walking tour. As each page brings readers to another awe-inspiring landmark, kids will want to learn more about the parks, states, and history of America.

Matt Hunt’s vibrant, full-bleed spreads are as expansive as the American landscape. The blue waters of Niagara Falls roar over the edge, creating white mist; the rock-hewn faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln gaze out from the peak of Mount Rushmore; and the spume of water from a Yellowstone geyser dwarfs the tourists below. As Liberty towers over cruise boats and trees, lounges across the Golden Gate Bridge, and flicks away a pesky alligator, kids gain an excellent perspective on the size of the Statue of Liberty as well as the monuments and natural landmarks she visits.

Like the postcards that Liberty sends to her friend Moe from stops on her journey, Lady Liberty’s Holiday is a welcome snapshot of America any time of year.

Ages 4 – 8

Knopf Books for Young People, Random House Kids, 2016 | ISBN 978-0553520675

To learn more about Jen Arena and view the books she’s written , visit her website!

A gallery of Matt Hunt‘s work can be seen on his website!

Independence Day Activity

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Fourth of July Coloring Page

 

The 4th of July celebrations mean flags, fireworks, and fun! Here’s a printable 4th of July Coloring Page for you to make your own holiday festivities. You can even make it sparkle with a dash of glitter!

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