Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Land of Big Dreamers: Voices of Courage in America

A Land of Big Dreamers: Voices of Courage in America

Neil Waldman
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Lerner, 2011   ISBN: 978-0822568100

Every so often a person comes along who recognizes that there are problems in our world. Rather than sitting back and watching to see what is going to happens next, this person speaks out. He or she does something to try to bring about change. Sometimes such people risk everything, including their lives, to make the world a better place for all.

For this book Neil Waldman has chosen to highlight the achievements of thirteen Americans who “distinguished themselves by acting courageously, often in difficult times, leaving a profound imprint on the history of our nation.” Each man or woman is profiled with a quote, with a section of text about his or her achievements, and with a beautiful illustration showing a portrait of the person with illustrated vignettes.

The author begins with Thomas Jefferson and the famous opening words of the U.S Declaration of Independence that he wrote. Next there is Elizabeth Cady Stanton who, in 1848, offered up a new version of Thomas Jefferson’s words. The Declaration of Sentiments, which was signed by sixty-eight women and thirty-two men at the first women's rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York, begins with: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men an women are created equal…” Elizabeth and many other women and men battled for years trying to get the vote for American women. She did not live long enough to see her dream come to fruition.

The other people whose words and lives are memorialized in this book are Frederick Douglass, Sitting Bull, Abraham Lincoln, Emma Lazarus, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Dr Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks, and Barack Obama.

At the back of the book the author provides his readers with more information about the thirteen people who are mentioned in the book.

With carefully chosen quotations, meaningful descriptions, and beautiful paintings, Neil Waldman gives readers of all ages a book that is powerful and memorab