Wednesday, March 2, 2011

OF THEE I SING by Barack Obama

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters is a 2010 children’s book by Barack Obama, illustrated by Loren Long. Here, Obama affirms his children’s positive attributes while paying tribute to thirteen influential Americans.

The book reads like Obama talks; you can hear him in your head without trying too hard. And the text is a lot like a speech: it extols, in a somewhat general way, virtue, hard work, bravery, and the like, without getting into anything terribly substantial. But for what this book is trying to do, that’s fine.

Long’s art is the highlight of the book. Beginning with representations of Obama’s two daughters, on each left-facing page, Long adds a child version of the notable American spotlighted on the opposite page. By the end of the book, there is a mass of diverse humanity.

Sitting Bull, who made war against the federal government, is, shall we say, an interesting choice here, particularly since he’s saluted as a healer. I wouldn’t say it’s an inappropriate choice, necessarily, but Obama is certainly trying to get the reader to look at American history from multiple points of view.

Regardless of what you think of Obama or his policies, Of Thee I Sing is a lovely little book that celebrates the best about America and the people who made her great. Read it to your kids.