A is for America: An American Alphabet by Devin Scillian with illustrations by Pam Carroll
Devin Scillian dedicates his book to "Mom, who taught me to love books, and Dad, who taught me to love my country." For parents who want to do the same for their children, A is for America is a fine start.
In this abecedarian volume, children are introduced to the Liberty Bell, Bunker Hill, Chicago and Charlotte, Denver and Dallas, and fireworks on the Fourth of July, as well as Hershey Bars, Holiday Inns, and Huckleberry Finn—all seen in Pam Carroll's colorful full-spread paintings.
Most of Scillian's rhymes do tend to emphasize what is extraordinary about America. "I is indeed important, how America came to be. It's the idea that an individual can insist on being free." With "J," "If not for Thomas Jefferson, where would we be today?" While "Abraham Lincoln gets all of L. It's elementary you see. He held us all together and at the same time set us free." Further on, we also meet Mickey Mantle, Norman Rockwell, Rosa Parks, and "Ulysses S. Grant in his Union uniform." Even difficult letters succeed with "Q" for John Hancock's quill and "X" to remind us of Election Day. Best of all, each letter includes a sidebar with additional facts on the subjects named. The book closes with the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner" and a detailed account of how it was written.
John Adams wrote that "children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom." A is for America is one way to put them on the right track.
—John B. Kienker
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This article appeared in the Winter 2002 issue of the Claremont Review of Books