Title: Her Right Foot
Author: Dave Eggers
Illustrator: Shawn Harris
Age Group: 4-8
Synopsis: A quippy, quirky, and moving revelation about the history and meaning of the Statue of Liberty.
I kept seeing this book around, but our location meant I had to hold my horses before I was able to finally get my hands on it. And oh my, was the wait worth it. Her Right Foot was informative in an extremely interesting way, dusted with humor, and finished off with a very important message. It’s an amazing blend that just sings. And what a stunning song it is too.
Dave Eggers begins his presentation of facts slowly and with witty tweaks every now and then. He introduces the French and the Italian/French designer, Bartholdi, before discussing briefly how the Statue of Liberty was built, assembled, disassembled, shipped, and reassembled. He speaks about the symbolism of her accessories and about the oxidization of the copper, before finally discussing the title of the book (for which he charmingly apologizes). And while the previous information is brilliantly put forth, it is this final focus that catapults this book to new heights. It’s through this small, little known, but extremely important feature that the story delivers it’s full message. The Statue of Liberty’s right foot is not firmly set on the ground but in mid-stride. Which then begs the question where is she going? Eggers argues that freedom and liberty are not things that stand still and wait they demand action. And as America has been a nation of immigrants from its conception, that is what the Statue of Liberty is continuing. She is on the way to meet the hopefuls who come to this country with open arms.
Shawn Harris beautifully pairs this story with rough cut illustrations that are simple yet expressive. They were amazingly well received by Bug, who loved the initial French scene and the following with cut out people on squarish white backgrounds even more. The chunky fuildity has an amazing juxtaposition, that pairs surprisingly well together. It’s charmingly rough-edged and thick with diversity. Which all fits perfectly with the story’s overarching message.
There have been many moments in the last couple years where I’ve winced at being American. As an expat, people are constantly bringing up current events and curious to discuss them. I’ve done a lot of head shaking recently, totally unsure of the direction that the United States is taking. And there have been moments of total embarrassment as well. But this book and its final message of welcoming inclusion, is what I think of when I think of America’s true intention. Its true message. And that’s what I want Bug to think of when he thinks of America. Not number one in GDP or innovation or military defenses. I want him to think of America as it has been for generations, a land of opportunity that allows people the chance to make their dreams reality. I know that’s idealistic, that for many, many residents or immigrants that’s not achievable. But I truly feel that it’s by dreaming and elevating these goals that they are finally able to get within reach. And it’s by holding our country and selves to this high standard that we make the unachievable a reality.
- Even Bug was interested in this book but we took it in chunks, as its length proved a bit of a challenge for his age.
- Slice up an apple afterwords and check out oxidization that doesn’t take 35 years. Bug LOVED this and has begun asking what else oxidizes. Enter experiments (and research!).
I need more!
Dave Eggers is the author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and has a few other children’s books coming out including another collboration with Swan Harris. Keep an eye out for The Lifters and What Can a Citizen Do? I was unable to locate his website so stick with the ever informative Google or Amazon.
Shawn Harris doesn’t seem to have other titles available but look out for What Can a Citizen Do? in the future.