|For spacious skies : Katharine Lee Bates and the inspiration for "America the beautiful"|
Author: Churnin, Nancy
Katharine Lee Bates first wrote the lines to "America the Beautiful" on a summer evening after a stirring visit to Pikes Peak in 1893. But the story behind the song begins with Katharine herself, who grew up with memories of the country divided by the Civil War and pushed beyond conventional expectations of women to become an acclaimed writer, scholar, suffragist, and reformer. Katharine believed in the power of words to make a difference.
Kirkus Reviews (02/01/20)
School Library Journal (02/01/20)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 02/01/2020 Gr 1–4—Katharine Lee Bates (1859–1929) was a scholar and an author in a time when most women were not encouraged to pursue careers outside their homes. After Bates's father died at a young age, her mother raised Bates and her siblings alone. Bates graduated from Newton High School in Massachusetts and then enrolled in Wellesley College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts. She was part of the second graduating class (1880) and was honored as the class president and the class poet. From 1880 to 1925, she was an English professor at Wellesley and later became the chair of the English department. Bates was a prolific writer—she was the author of novels and textbooks, as well as poetry. Her most famous poem, "America the Beautiful," was inspired by her travels across the United States. The poem was set to music by Samuel A. Ward in 1910. The song was a strong contender for the National Anthem. Baumert's eye-catching artwork is reminiscent of the folkish aesthetic of early American paintings, which appropriately matches the narrative's historical setting. This history of "America the Beautiful" would be a very interesting story to compare to the making of the "Star-Spangled Banner." VERDICT This picture book biography about a strong, smart woman and her contribution to American culture is a strong choice for elementary libraries.—Debbie Tanner, S D Spady Montessori Elementary, FL - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 02/15/2020 The author of “America the Beautiful,” Katherine Bates grew up in the mid-1800s, when opportunities for women were limited and girls “learned to mend and cook.” Despite financial and societal obstacles, she pursued an education and became a social reformer, a poet, and a professor at her alma mater, Wellesley College. While traveling through Colorado, she was inspired by the view from Pikes Peak to write “America the Beautiful,” which was first published in 1895. Set to music in 1910, it became “her gift to America.” The story ends on a high note in 1920, with Bates casting her ballot after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted voting rights to women. While terms such as suffrage, sweatshops, and economic depression may fly over the heads of the intended audience, the two clear, brief quotes from Bates are welcome additions to the narrative. The richly colored, nicely composed artwork will help children visualize the period setting while enjoying the portrayals of Bates and beautiful landscapes. A picture-book biography of a notable American. - Copyright 2020 Booklist.