October 21, 2017

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Shawn Harris

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 9:49 pm by suebe2

Her Right Foot
by Dave Eggers
illustrated by Shawn Harris
Chronicle Books

Take a look at a few photos of the Statue of Liberty.  Not paintings.  Photographs.  Seriously.  Do it now.  Pay special attention to the base of the statue.  Have you ever noticed that she is walking?  This woman is on the move.

Eggers has covered so much in this one book.  When I requested it from the library, I thought it was your standard picture book.  Then it came in and I panicked.  “This isn’t 32 pages.  It is so long!”  And it is long for a picture book at 104 pages.  I wouldn’t try to read it to a preschooler but an attentive 6 or 8 year old?  You bet. This book tells a story that we all need to be thinking about.

Eggers brings the reader into the story early.  He takes us right to the moment where two men in France, Eduard de Laboulaye and Frederic August Bartholdi came up with an idea to celebrate the 100th birthday of the US.  They would give the US a statue.

Eggers writes about the models.  He writes about the construction.  He writes about taking it all apart again and shipping it, on a ship yet, to the US.  He writes about putting it back together again.

If you think you know all there is to know about this statue, think again.  He wrote about it’s changing color.  He wrote about Edison’s plans for the statue and, most importantly of all at least where this book is concerned, he wrote about her feet.  Around her feet lay broken chains.  This is something that a lot of people have noted.  But he back foot, her right foot, is captured in the act of coming off the ground to stride forward.  What could this possibly mean?

Eggers has some ideas.  The Statue of Liberty is a celebration of freedom.  It is a celebration of welcoming the immigrant and the refugee.  How can Lady Liberty stand still when there are people who need her?  “She is not content to wait. She must meet them…”

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Eggers’ style, it’s a bit cheeky.  I have to admit that I found it a little off-putting at first. This is such a serious topic!  But as I got into the book, I realized that that is precisely why he style was perfect.  We need a bit of cheek to keep it from becoming preachy and dark.  Eggers’ tone emphasizes some very important points, especially in light of recent debates regarding immigration, but he does it without making the book grim.

I love the collage illustrations that Harris created to accompany the text.  My favorites?  Lady Liberty going for a stroll.

Share this with your class studying history, government or immigration.  Read it as a family.  And then be prepared to sit down and discuss how things are vs how they should be.

I don’t know about you, but now I’ll be looking for quirky details in every monument I see.

–SueBE

 

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