Happy Birthday, America

Overview

Mary Pope Osborne celebrates July 4th, the most American of holidays, with a warm family story. Three generations enjoy parades, popcorn, "Yankee Doodle," and at the end of the day, lightning bugs and fireworks. "Then I blow out the stars, as if they were candles on a giant birthday cake" —a glorous image in Peter Catalanotto's glowing and buoyant watercolors.

The whole family joins in a lively small-town celebration of Independence Day, including a parade, a ...

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Overview

Mary Pope Osborne celebrates July 4th, the most American of holidays, with a warm family story. Three generations enjoy parades, popcorn, "Yankee Doodle," and at the end of the day, lightning bugs and fireworks. "Then I blow out the stars, as if they were candles on a giant birthday cake" —a glorous image in Peter Catalanotto's glowing and buoyant watercolors.

The whole family joins in a lively small-town celebration of Independence Day, including a parade, a picnic, music, and fireworks. An author's note explains the origin of the celebration of July 4th.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Mary Pope Osborne (the Magic Tree House series) joins in a family's small-town Fourth of July celebration in Happy Birthday, America, illus. by Peter Catalanotto. Thickly applied watercolors depict the festivities, including a pet parade, picnic, concert and fireworks. An author's note details the origins of Independence Day traditions. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
"On the Fourth of July, Mom, Dad, Katie, Grandpa, Grandma, Aunt Beth, baby Jess, Bud the dog and I go to Memorial Park." The family spends the day celebrating the Fourth of July in time-honored ways. The young boy sells popcorn and pizza at the Pee Wee Football booth. Grandma sells raffle tickets for the American Legion. A pet parade, face painting, the Kiwani's penny pitch, balloons, firemen, ice cream and barbecued chicken cooked by the Knights of Columbus fill the day. And in the evening a blanket is spread under the stars where everyone sits to listen to the school band playing patriotic tunes and to a reading of the Declaration of Independence. As the last line of The Star Spangled Banner is sung the fireworks go off, burst and rain down "near the flag that is still there." This tale hints of earlier times when small town celebrations were, perhaps, more common than they are today. Grandparents, parents and small town kids may recognize this sort of old fashioned celebration, but it is unlikely to be familiar to those who live in today's cities and suburbs. Regrettably this book lacks the sizzle and excitement of a Fourth of July celebration. And illustrations that ought to sparkle don't. The colors are muddy and the pictures disconcertingly out of focus. The Fourth of July deserves better than this. 2003, Roaring Brook Press/The Millbrook Press,
— Anita Barnes Lowen
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Independence and patriotism are hard concepts for the very young to grasp. Osborne tackles this challenge through a nostalgic recollection of a small-town Fourth of July celebration. Food, fun, and family fill the day, with firemen; members of the Kiwanis, American Legion, and Knights of Columbus; and a local dance school and band all playing their parts. "Yankee Doodle," "Stars and Stripes Forever," Lady Liberty, reading from the Declaration of Independence, and a community singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" lead right into the "Oooooh!" "Ahhhh!" "Wow!" sparked by the fireworks. Finally, a happy, tired family drives home. Though most children would rather be at an event than read about the nice time others have, Osborne's text is an agreeable slice of life. Catalanotto's illustrations capture the festivities with selective realism and just enough detail. The author's notes cap the work with a few historical and personal tidbits. Libraries that need additional materials to support holiday collections will find this worthy of consideration even though the ideals of independence and patriotism remain elusive.-Jody McCoy, The Bush School, Seattle, WA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a small town, which could be Anywhere, USA, a young boy narrates as three generations of family gather to spend the day celebrating July 4th. A pet parade, some time staffing the popcorn and pizza booth, a performance by his sister's dance class, then antique cars, and carnival games. Face painting and balloon sword fights are followed by water battles by local firemen. Finally, the family settles with their dinner for the concert under the stars. On the last note of the "Star Spangled Banner," the finale begins. As the fireworks light the sky, the children see shapes in the glowing sparks, and the young boy whispers, "Happy birthday, America," as he blows out the stars on America's birthday cake. These ordinary events add up to a surprisingly emotional story. Catalanotto's watercolor illustrations invoke summer, giving readers a glimpse of that season, and of the familiar activities surrounding the holiday. (Picture book. 5-9)
From the Publisher

Publishers Weekly

 

Mary Pope Osborne joins in a family's small-town Fourth of July celebration in Happy Birthday, America, illus. by Peter Catalanotto. Thickly applied watercolors depict the festivities, including a pet parade, picnic, concert and fireworks. An author's note details the origins of Independence Day traditions.

 

Booklist

 

This sparkling tribute to the Fourth of July depicts how a family of eight living in a small town celebrates this favorite holiday. Catalanotto's familiar, softly colred artwork stages the scenario: a pet parade; popcorn, pizza, and raffle tickets for sale; face painting; antique cars, penny pitching; a nighttime concert, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and fireworks. The day is made up of little things, while the celebration is about big ones—community, freedom, and pride. Catalanotto's watercolor palette lends a candlelike glow to scenes as the expressive faces of kids and adults enjoy the occasion. Pair this with Marsha Chall's similarly titled picture book, published in 2000, for a doubly festive reading.

 

School Library Journal

 

Independence and patriotism are hard concepts for the very young to grasp. Osborne tackles this challenge through a nostalgic recollection of a small-town Fourth of July celebration. Food, fun, and family fill the day, with firemen; members of the Kiwanis, American Legion, and Knights ofColumbus; and a local dance school and band all playing their parts. "Yankee Doodle," "Stars and Stripes Forever," Lady Liberty, reading from the Declaration of Independence, and a community singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" lead right into the "Oooooh!" "Ahhhh!" "Wow!" sparked by the fireworks. Finally, a happy, tired family drives home. Though most children would rather be at an event than read about the nice time others have, Osborne's text is an agreeable slice of life. Catalanotto's illustrations capture the festivities with selective realism and just enough detail. The author's notes cap the work with a few historical and personal tidbits. Libraries that need additional materials to support holiday collections will find this worthy of consideration even though the ideals of independence and patriotism remain elusive.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312380502
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 4/29/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 466,355
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.06 (w) x 9.89 (h) x 0.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Pope Osborne

Mary Pope Osborne is the author of the multimillion-copy bestselling Magic Tree House series, as well as New York's Bravest. She lives in northwestern Connecticut.

Peter Catalanotto's most recent book for Roaring Brook Press is We Wanted You, written by Liz Rosenberg. He lives in southeaster Pennsylvania.

Biography

Ever since 1992, Mary Pope Osborne has been thrilling kids everywhere with her delightfully exciting Magic Tree House series. The globetrotting escapades of time travelers Jack and Annie are brimming with adventure and magic (not to mention some subtly placed lessons on history and geography). With a life like Osborne's, it's only natural that she would be capable of bringing such wondrous stories to life.

Osborne was brought up in a military family, and her parents' work led to a lifestyle marked by constant change. "By the time I was 15," she says on randomhouse.com, "I had lived in Oklahoma, Austria, Florida, and four different army posts in Virginia and North Carolina." While many kids would probably feel disoriented by such constant change, Osborne wouldn't have had it any other way. "Moving was never traumatic for me, but staying in one place was. When my dad finally retired to a small town in North Carolina, I nearly went crazy with boredom. I craved the adventure and changing scenery of our military life."

And adventure is exactly what Osborne got! After college, she embarked on a series of daring treks across the globe that would surely give Jack and Annie a run for their money. "For a while I camped in a cave on the island of Crete," she said. "Then I joined up with a small band of European young people heading to 'The East.' We traveled through 11 Asian countries and nearly lost our lives, first in an earthquake in northern Afghanistan and then in a riot in Kabul."

Following an illness she contracted in Katmandu, Osborne returned home to the U.S. trying her hand at a vast variety of jobs: window dresser, medical assistant, Russian travel consultant, waitress, bartender, and an assistant editor at a children's magazine. Although Osborne had unconsciously moved closer toward her ultimate career, she says that her first attempts at writing seemed to come without warning. "One day, out of the blue, I began writing a story about an 11-year-old girl in the South," she recalls. "The girl was a lot like me, and many of the incidents in the story were similar to happenings in my childhood...it became a young adult novel called Run, Run Fast as You Can. Finally, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up."

She sure did! Since then, Osborne has penned a slew of stories, including picture books, chapter books, middle-grade biographies, and young adult novels; but she is indisputably best known for her wonderful Magic Tree House books, a happy hodge-podge of history and mystery with a time travel theme kids find irresistible. No doubt inspired by Osborne's own highly adventurous life, these exiting expeditions have attracted droves of children and pleased educators by combining compulsively readable storytelling with useful facts about geography and history.

As was written of the series in Children's Literature, "Mary Pope Osborne provides nicely paced excitement for young readers, and there's just enough information mixed in so that children will take away some historical fact along with a sense of accomplishment at having completed a chapter book." As much as Osborne has certainly pleased her readers (not to mention their parents and teachers), perhaps no one is quite as pleased as she. "I'm one of those very lucky people who absolutely loves what they do for a living," she explained. "There is no career better suited to my eccentricities, strengths, and passions than that of a children's book author."

Good To Know

A few fascinating outtakes from our interview with Osborne:

"One of the most defining experiences of my life was traveling overland in an old van through the Middle East and Asia in the early 1970's. One day, when a small group of us were camped in a remote part of northern Afghanistan, we saw a woman riding horseback over the sloping plain. Her long brown hair floated on the wind and she wore a bright gypsy-style dress. When she got closer, I realized she was one of my roommates from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill! Though I didn't even know she'd left the U.S.—and she didn't know I was in Afghanistan, we weren't that surprised to come upon each other. That says a lot about the times we were living in then."

"After 26 years of living in New York City, my husband Will and I now spend most of our time in Northwestern Connecticut, living in a house that overlooks a lake. We kayak and hike with our two Norfolk terriers, Joey and Mr. Bezo. Will's learning Italian, and I've been working with a tutor for two years trying to understand Dante's Divine Comedy. One of my biggest hobbies is reading philosophy and theology. We spend lots of time, of course, on our work. After writing three shows for the Morehead Planetarium in North Carolina, Will's writing a musical based on the Magic Tree House series. I'm writing book # 38 in the series. I also spend a lot of time with my sister Natalie Pope Boyce who works on the Magic Tree House Research Guides. Natalie and our nephews and some of our best friends live nearby in the Berkshires Hills of Massachusetts, so we're up there a lot, too. My only complaint is there is not enough time to do all I want to do. For instance, I'd love to take drawing classes and I'd love to paint the lake we're living on. And I'd love to bird watch and become a better cook and learn about classical music. Maybe sometime in the future...."

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    1. Hometown:
      Goshen, Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 20, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Fort Sill, Oklahoma
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of North Carolina
    2. Website:

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