Rappaport, Doreen. 2008. Lady Liberty A Biography. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press. ISBN 978-0-7636-2539-6.
In this collection of poems, Rappaport chronologically tells the story of the creation of Lady Liberty, from the idea’s conception to the final unveiling in New York City. Using the comments and experiences of the people involved in the making of Lady Liberty as an inspiration and starting point, Rappaport not only conveys the factual information about the history of Lady Liberty but also the emotional aspect of people who valued the liberty she symbolizes. Each poem is titled with a person’s name, a person who somehow influenced the making of the Statue of Liberty, ranging from Charles P. Stone, the construction supervisor, to Florence De Foreest, a ten year old girl in New Jersey who mailed her roosters to support the construction efforts. Underneath the title the location and the date of the particular part of Lady Liberty’s story is listed. These added details support the idea that Lady Liberty and her symbolism spans time and place.
Told in free verse poetry, the poems are not fancy or risky. Instead of using the style or rhythm to make an impact, the author simply uses the words and the feelings liberty invokes to make a point with readers. Sometimes simple is better and more powerful. The pictures are a wonderful addition to the book. Most moving is the illustration for the poem “Jose Marti”, which is dark and gray, with the blue and the red of the American flag the only bright colors shining through.
Although the critics recommend this book for grades 3-8, it can be used in older grades as well. With revolutions happening in Egypt and Libya, the idea of liberty and its worth is current and relevant. The last poem of the book, which tells the story of the unveiling of the statue, embodies the idea of freedom. This poem could be used in a high school history class or even government class to spark a discussion about the current events in the world. A United States history class can use the poems in the book when learning about the American Revolution. Although the statue was made much later, it is a symbol of what the colonists were willing to risk their lives for. Sometimes students focus on the facts they need to learn for the test and forget the emotions and feelings of the people who lived during those events.
“Liberty! The most important word in the world.
I know that all too well.
I was deported from my country, Cuba
for fighting to free my people from Spanish rule” (Rappaport 26).
This section of a poem is a great warm-up question to get students thinking about exactly what Lady Liberty means not only to Americans but to people around the world.
Lady Liberty is one of my favorite places I have ever visited. I love what she symbolizes, and I think she's beautiful! Here's a picture of me with Lady Liberty.