Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters

( 213 )

Overview

In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O'Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America’s children.
 
Breathtaking, evocative ...
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Overview

In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O'Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America’s children.
 
Breathtaking, evocative illustrations by award-winning artist Loren Long at once capture the personalities and achievements of these great Americans and the innocence and promise of childhood.
 
This beautiful book celebrates the characteristics that unite all Americans, from our nation’s founders to generations to come. It is about the potential within each of us to pursue our dreams and forge our own paths. It is a treasure to cherish with your family forever.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

In this letter to his daughter Malia and Sasha, President Barack Obama personalizes the precepts that have made our country great. By singling out thirteen remarkable Americans, he shows how each embodies traits that all of us, regardless of age, can admire and emulate. Loren Long's evocative illustrations strike just the right note.

Publishers Weekly
Already the author of two books for adults, President Obama turns toward young Americans with this picture book tribute to 13 men and women--and corresponding qualities of character--that demonstrate the nation's best. Written before he took office, the book directly addresses daughters Sasha and Malia, who appear throughout, joined by young versions of Georgia O'Keeffe, Helen Keller, Sitting Bull (a selection that's already generating controversy), Neil Armstrong, and the rest--a tangible reminder that every hero, artist, and explorer was once a child. Obama asks a series of questions, followed by poetic descriptions of each famous American. "Have I told you that you don't give up?" appears opposite Martin Luther King, Jr., hands joined in solidarity with civil rights supporters; "Have I told you to be proud to be American?" accompanies a winter scene of General George Washington encouraging a trio of soldiers ("He helped make an idea into a new country, strong and true"). On the left side of each spread, the growing chorus of children faces Long's paintings--by turns majestic, whimsical, and rousing--as though watching history unfold. The group is highly diverse, both in backgrounds and accomplishments, creating a collective portrait of citizens' inspiration, dedication, and bravery. Ages 3–up. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Using the format of a letter to his daughters, President Obama asks on each double page, "Have I told you...?" First, "...that you are creative?" introduces Georgia O'Keefe as the artist example. "...that you are smart?" offers Albert Einstein. Other qualities he says his daughters share are bravery, with baseball player Jackie Robinson; being a healer, like Sitting Bull; a song, like Billie Holiday; strength, like Helen Keller; kindness, like Jane Addams; being an explorer like Neil Armstrong; inspiring, like Cesar Chavez; and proud to be an American, like George Washington. Also noted are Maya Lin, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Lincoln. In spare but inspiring language Obama notes that America "...is made up of people of every kind...they are all part of you...you are the future..." Girls the age of Obama's daughters are shown painted with acrylics with their dog on the jacket and then on the bare white left page gazing at a young example and at the detailed naturalistic illustration of the subject across the gutter. Each subsequent spread adds the example to the watchers gazing at the new example. Each carries a symbolic tool: brushes for the painter, a rocket ship for the explorer, etc. The growth of the observing crowd creates a sense of swelling waves until the final double-page spread depicts scores of youngsters of varying ethnicities added to those already on the scene, all with peaceful, happy expressions. The message is both positive and uplifting. There are added factual notes on all included people. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
From the Publisher
"If Barack Obama wants to quit his day job (and maybe he might), he can probably make it as a children’s book author. Certainly, this is a beautiful package: thoughtfully conceived, handsomely illustrated and designed, and with a tight yet evocative text that brings children into the world of 13 famous Americans. Framed as a letter to his daughters (“Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?” the book begins), each double-page spread then asks a question that is exemplified by a person of note. “Have I told you that you are creative?” introduces Georgia O’Keeffe, who “helped us see big beauty in what is small: / the hardness of stone and the softness of feather.” Most of the people briefly profiled are expected names—George Washington, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, César Chávez—but there are a few outliers here as well, including Billie Holiday and Sitting Bull. As the spreads turn, other children join (the unnamed) Malia and Sasha on the question page, each embodying their own special gifts and talents. Long’s exceptional artwork has a timeless, Rockwellian quality that serves the text well, and the congregation of the children at the book’s conclusion will have readers looking and looking again. An addendum features a bit more about each person highlighted. Parents will be happy to talk to their own children about how creative or kind or strong they are and reiterate, as the president does, their place in the American family. — Ilene Cooper"—Booklist, starred review
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—In characteristically measured prose, the 44th President introduces 13 American icons and heroes as exemplars of personal virtues, from Georgia O'Keeffe (creativity) and Jackie Robinson (courage) to Helen Keller (strength) and Cesar Chavez (inspiration). Though he includes Billie Holiday in his gallery (a gifted singer, but an iffy role model) along with a free translation of Chavez's !Si se puede! as "Yes, you can!" (which was his campaign slogan: the official UFW version is a more accurate but stiffer "Yes, it can be done!"), Obama offers general but cogent summations of why each figure merits admiration—Martin Luther King Jr., for instance, "taught us unyielding compassion," and Helen Keller, "never waiting for life to get easier," "gave others courage to face their challenges." Long's superb technical gifts and gentle sense of humor shine in the pictures. Posed nobly and, usually, hard at work in full-page scenes, each man or woman also appears as a willowy but recognizable child on the facing and following pages, joining a growing crowd of young observers gazing across the center stitching and exchanging symbolic tools of their various trades. Their ranks swelled with more children, these younger versions turn to face viewers on the penultimate spread, followed by a closing painting of the author walking with his daughters and a page of reasonably accurate historical notes. As well as offering thought-provoking choices and commentary, this stately outing leads naturally to Lynne Cheney's more populous America: A Patriotic Primer (S & S, 2002) as first introductions to our country's great ones.—John Peters, formerly at New York Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375835278
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 11/16/2010
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 55,279
  • Age range: 6 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 12.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Barack Obama is the forty-fourth president of the United States. Born in Hawaii to a mother from Kansas and a father from Kenya, he himself is now the father of two daughters, Malia and Sasha. It was spending time with them that inspired him to write Of Thee I Sing.

 
About the Illustrator

Loren Long is the bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator of many beloved books for children, including Drummer Boy and the New York Times bestseller Otis. Born in Missouri and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, he is also the illustrator of Watty Piper’s The Little Engine That Could, as well as Toy Boat, I Dream of Trains, and Wind Flyers. He lives in Ohio with his wife, Tracy, their two sons, Griffith and Graham, and their dogs, Elle and Moon.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 213 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(127)

4 Star

(25)

3 Star

(22)

2 Star

(10)

1 Star

(29)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 215 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2010

    Clarification of Song Reference

    In response to the September 22, 2010 post entitled, "Earnings donated???":

    The book's title does not come from the song "America the Beautiful" (whose lyrics are "O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain..."), but instead from the song "America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee)". The lyrics of that song are:
    "My country,' tis of thee,
    sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing;"

    In this lyric, "of thee I sing" is referring to "my country" not to God.

    So he is writing about 13 individuals who he feels represent the spirit of America.

    Also, according to an Associated Press article (see Yahoo News for a reprint of the article): "The president will donate any author proceeds to "a scholarship fund for the children of fallen and disabled soldiers serving our nation," the publisher said in a statement."

    Thank you to the reviews that have focused on the contents of the book and the facts. Those reviews are helpful in determining whether or not to purchase this book.

    113 out of 127 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 22, 2010

    beautiful book

    I read this book over the weekend and was struck by the fascinating American figures President Obama chose for inclusion in his work. His choices could lead to some wonderful conversations with children. The book is also beautifully written and illustrated.

    I also must mention to the "anonymous" reviewer who wrote the negative comments that President Obama actually wrote this book BEFORE he became president. Perhaps a little research is in order before one chooses to go on such rants. Just a suggestion!

    95 out of 102 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2010

    Inspirational!

    Is it so bad to take a little time out to uplift the lives of children? "Obama agreed with Random House in 2004 to write a children's book, which, according to the publisher, he completed before he became president. "Of Thee I Sing" is part of a $1.9 million, three-book deal with Random House reached in 2004, according to a disclosure report filed in 2005, when Obama was a U.S. senator from Illinois. The other two books were nonfiction."

    91 out of 108 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 28, 2010

    Proud of MY PRESIDENT- very loving gesture

    Please leave the negative, hateful, personal comments on your negative, hateful blogs. And PLEASE get the truth from a reliable source (not Faux News)before you start spouting off. This is a forum for people who enjoy actually reading books and giving others honest reviews.

    This sounds like a beautiful letter to his daughters to let them know how proud he is to be an American and how proud he is of the people who came before him to help shape this country.

    72 out of 90 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 16, 2010

    I have a heavy heart ...

    Given the publication date date of this book is only today, November 16th, 5 hours old EST, the fact that there are already several dozen reviews of it is remarkable. The ratings of these reviewers are either 1-star or 5-stars ... either Wonderful or Despicable. Dichotomous. No nuances there. Either you're with us or against us. This is a microcosm of what's happened to American society and culture in the last two decades. We've been polarized by the mainstream media and partisan, reactionary politics. We've become ravenous to pounce on any target of opportunity: to hate, to denigrate and decry. We can no longer accept a sincere address to young schoolchildren beginning a new year of study, or respect a father's sincere tribute to his daughters for what it is: an expression of love for two beautiful children who will never again be able to work out their adolescent tribulations in anonymity. Bless them both. My heart if heavy, weighed down by the vitriol of those who hate the Obama family and cannot understand a father's love for Sasha and Melia. I will order copies to send to my granddaughters for Christmas.

    64 out of 78 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 25, 2010

    What a joy - a fathers love letter to his daughters

    What is wrong with us. Everything is under suspicion. Can't we believe that there are parents who love their children for no other reason that they are the light of our lives? Way to go President Obama...teach us all about the important things in our life. Remember our past and celebrate the now and look forward to making the future the kind we want it to be.

    54 out of 69 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2010

    Beautiful book

    This is a beautifully written book for children. It points out some wonderful Americans who sent a great example for children. These Americans are diverse and from all walks of life ... showing children anyone can be a hero. The illistrations are beautiful as well.

    46 out of 52 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 16, 2010

    Inspiring base for a children's book

    Every parent should be so loving as to write a story entitled "of Thee I Sing' -- the double-meaning is touching and inspirational for American families. The hateful, mean-spirited people who are making vicious comments are sad souls who appear to be incapable of appreciating a book like this. I feel sorry for them.

    44 out of 53 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2010

    Beautifully done!

    Very well done, touching, and beautiful.

    39 out of 51 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Charity

    HE IS DONATING ALL PROCEEDS TO CHARITY...IT WAS COVERED ON EVERY NEWS ORGANIZATION...INCLUDING FIXED NEWS...I MEAN FOX. SO GET OVER IT AND GIVE THE MAN A BREAK. BUSH DIDN'T EXACTLY MAKE IT EASY FOR HIM. I BELIEVE THE MONEY IS GOING TO MILITARY FAMILIES...I'M NOT SURE ON THAT. AND AMERICANEG...SHALL WE COUNT HOW MANY VACATIONS BUSH TOOK IN OFFICE? SERIOUSLY MAN, SHOW SOME RESPECT.

    38 out of 61 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2010

    YES VERY SERIOUS!

    looks like you are the only one that thinks its ridiculous...know the facts before making negative comments, THANKS :) GREAT READ!!!

    36 out of 57 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 16, 2010

    Perfect Christmas Present

    After reading my neighbor's copy, I am now buying this beautiful, thoughtful book for every child on my Christmas list -- and a few of the adults as well. The uplifting message of the book, as well as the obvious love for family and country, will not only benefit children but may also comfort their parents through this period of economic stress and political ugliness. The patriotism and faith that America will always overcome setbacks and even failures radiates from every page.

    35 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2010

    the dude

    Hey Idiots! The book was written before he took office. If you're going to criticize him, at least base it off fact.

    34 out of 42 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Touching, Incredible, Superb!!!

    At first I thought the price was a bit high, if it was a child's book. I didn't know what to expect but when I opened it I wanted to cry. The illustrations captured the feeling of togetherness as one nation under God. It is beautifully illustrated. Well worth the purchase.

    33 out of 38 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 25, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Can't wait to receive the book!

    Hard to review a book that's not yet released, but I am looking forwards to reading it. The President wrote this book before taking office and it's great that Random House is publishing it now - the country needs more positive inspiration and the sooner it is published the sooner all author proceeds will go to scholarships for children of wounded and fallen soldiers. How can one not be inspired by a tribute to great Americans? President Obama is an accomplished author and Loren Long is a wonderful illustrator.

    31 out of 51 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 29, 2010

    What A Legacy to Leave Behind!

    I'm thrilled at learning of the book's production and am looking forward to receiving my copy! As a military brat of a retired Vietnam Vet myself, I believe this is a very honorable and timely gesture. Just goes to prove that the American people were right this time in their choice of president - someone who we can all be very confident in and proud of.

    30 out of 42 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2010

    Excellent book!!!

    Just purchased and read Of Thee I Sing for my godchildren. With the many reviews I have read prior to my purchase, I would have never picked up this book. It is a sad commentary that this country has become so hostile, mean, incredibly ignorant and down-right nasty that we can no longer choose and read a book that the president has written not only for his daughters but for the daughters of this country. I am becoming ashamed of the fact that ignorance truly is bliss in this country. Grow up America. This book is is a gift for your children. While you're at it, gather some history of this country for yourselves. Greatness won't come this way again for a long time.

    29 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2010

    "Ridiculous? I Don't Think So.

    The only thing ridiculous is the person who thinks that this book is ridiculous. I commend the President for having the compassion to write such a book. As a parent, I will make sure that I read this to my children.

    24 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Kids Review - Cool - Even Though My Parents Were Negative?

    Politics comes into play with some folks,but, this really is a beautiful book with a awesome message. I hope that people who dislike President Obama's choices in office will not cast aside this book without taking a look first. The pictures are out of sight. I agree with some of the other reviewers that some of the examples of great Americans seem kind of strange, but I appreciate the sentiments behind all of them, and I think this book could inspire young readers to read in school and find out more about some of these people. I like that there is a short bio of each person in the back of the book, as I did not know who some of the people were. the bottom line of the book is that our country is made up of all types of people and that we all bring different talents and ideas to the table. Some of the writing is really beautiful, but some of it does seem a little stilted, and some of the word choices make me wonder what age group this book was really written for. Just a point to note, President Obama wrote this book before he was in office and 100% of the profits are being donated to a charity for the children of disabled veterans. I enjoyed the book. Tex

    19 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 17, 2010

    Give your child something to sing about

    Of Thee I Sing is not only Obama's loving letter to his daughters, it is a touching tribute to our nation. The Americans the president highlights are interesting, inspiring, and well-chosen models for our children. Long's illustrations are engaging and lively, as always. Perfect choice to remind us of the ties that bind us and the values we want to pass on to the next generation. I'm buying one for myself, too.

    17 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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