I love this book. It’s a celebration of life and the human spirit. It’s a tribute to strong, dedicated, caring people in the past, present and future. It touches on many precious gifts of humanity — kindness, curiosity, tenacity, honor, inspiration. And it’s a love song to children, telling them that they can make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. I love how it starts with art — freedom of individual expression — and ends with creating a “country of citizens,” which is what we all are, no matter what country we’re from, including the universal country of citizens, the world.
Loren Long’s illustrations are beautiful, of course, but beyond that, they’re elegantly symbolic. More children are added to successive pages, each one looking like the child version of the famous person depicted, but also representative of today’s children. As the growing number of children observes the famous people from history, the children mingle and learn from each other, sharing their talents as paint brush and baseball bat and book and other items are passed from one to another. In the end, the crowd of children, even larger now, turns to face the reader, not only showing strength in diversity, but also looking expectantly at the reader as if to say, “It’s your turn now.” It’s a loving, inclusive, and empowering book.
No matter what your political leanings or your feelings on celebrity books (this particular celebrity has already published quality books for adults), this is an inspiring and heartfelt book. I wish my kids were younger so I could read it to them. Actually, I will still read it to them because it’s good to be reminded of the contributions of people like Billie Holliday, Cesar Chavez and Abraham Lincoln. And it’s never too late to ask, “Have I told you that you are one of them, and that you are the future?”