Sweet Land of Liberty
Deborah Hopkinson's Sweet Land of Liberty is a wonderfully evocative book about Marian Anderson's 1939 performance in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Hopkinson's lively writing turns this historical event into a dramatic tale, beginning with a young boy's first experience with injustice when he is nearly expelled from a Virginia school for hanging a portrait of Abraham Lincoln in the classroom. That boy grew up to be Oscar Chapman, assistant secretary of the interior under Franklin Roosevelt, and this boyhood injustice stayed with him. He came up with the idea for the Anderson concert to be held at the Lincoln Memorial and helped make it a reality. Hopkinson's narrative moves along in a compelling way, and she ends with a helpful historical note about the events and her research. Leonard Jenkins' mixed-media illustrations are beautifully modern, yet full of the historical images important to this tale: the U.S. Capitol, Marian Anderson and the Lincoln Memorial.