Uncle Sam and Old Glory: Symbols of America

Uncle Sam and Old Glory: Symbols of America

by Delno C. West, Jean M. West, Christopher Manson
     
 

Have you ever wondered why the American colors are red, white, and blue? Did you know that our national mascot was almost a turkey rather than a bald eagle? Can you trace your family's ancestry back to the Mayflower Pilgrims, or perhaps to a cowboy of the Old West? Do you think you would like to spend Thanksgiving watching footraces rather than televised

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Overview

Have you ever wondered why the American colors are red, white, and blue? Did you know that our national mascot was almost a turkey rather than a bald eagle? Can you trace your family's ancestry back to the Mayflower Pilgrims, or perhaps to a cowboy of the Old West? Do you think you would like to spend Thanksgiving watching footraces rather than televised football or eating venison and oysters rather than turkey? Many of us have played with Lincoln Logs, but did you know that they were named after President Abraham Lincoln, who was born in a log cabin?
Symbols have always played a crucial role in shaping our identity as a country. The American buffalo, the Statue of Liberty, the Mayflower, and Uncle Sam himself have all helped convey to the world the American values of liberty and democracy.
Delno and Jean West's lively prose unveils the stories behind America's symbols, complemented by Christopher Manson's handsome woodcuts, which perfectly convey the rugged individualism of the American spirit.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This meager volume offers brief, sometimes sketchy descriptions of 15 American emblems that range from specific objects (the Liberty Bell, the Mayflower) to more generic staples of American history and lore (the Pilgrim, log cabin, buffalo, cowboy). The Wests (Braving the North Atlantic) present some lively snippets of trivia, including an explanation of the lyrics to "Yankee Doodle" (e.g., "macaroni" was the name of a hairstyle fashionable in mid-18th-century London). Unfortunately, grammatical flaws and wordiness plague many of the entries; discussing "the minuteman," the authors write, "Unlike some nations where a full-time professional army protects its citizens, American soldiers serve a series of short-term enlistments and have always seen themselves as citizens trained to fight to protect their country." And the text contains numerous throwaway generalizations: "Today, no patriotic gathering would be complete without an appearance by someone dressed as Uncle Sam." The high point of the book is Manson's (Black Swan/ White Crow) art. Painted woodcuts, these textured, predominantly earth-tone pictures successfully evoke various eras and are more likely than the text to stir feelings of patriotism in young readers. Ages 7-up. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
How many times have you sung "Yankee Doodle," waved an American flag, or eaten turkey for Thanksgiving dinner? Have you ever wondered where such traditions came from? In Uncle Sam and Old Glory, readers find the answer to this and other questions as they explore the history of fifteen symbols of America. A detailed, accessible introduction explains the functions of symbols in our world and why such symbols are important. A one-page summary and color woodcut articulate the history of fifteen prominent American symbols from the Statue of Liberty to Smoky the Bear and the American bald eagle to the buffalo. The summaries both educate and entertain as they explore historical fact and provide interesting tidbits of our American past. The accompanying color woodcuts are equally appropriate, infusing an all-American, self-made feel to the illustrations. 2000, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Ages 7 up, $17.00. Reviewer: Leah Hanson
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-The Wests present a wide assortment of symbols that range from expected favorites such as the American flag, the Liberty Bell, and the Statue of Liberty to less familiar emblems, such as the log cabin, the peace pipe, the buffalo, and Smokey the Bear. Each entry is accompanied by a page-long description and a lovely woodcut painted in rich earth tones. While interesting and informative, the discussions are too abbreviated to use for reports. The Liberty Bell essay highlights the famous crack without naming any events that the bell commemorated. An article on the American buffalo mentions the buffalo nickel as a "true American coin," without saying that it is no longer minted. While there are several titles that cover individual symbols in greater depth, this inviting compendium provides an attractive introduction for young readers.-Jackie Hechtkopf, University of Maryland, College Park Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Bonnie Fowler
Perfect for short reports or United States history units. Use the list of recently published books to further explore the stories behind these symbols.
Bookbag Magazine

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780689820434
Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
02/01/2000
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
916,809
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
1010L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Read an Excerpt

UNCLE SAM

Perhaps you've seen him in parades or at a Fourth of July picnic. He sometimes appears at patriotic gatherings clad in a long blue coat, a vest, and red and white striped trousers. He normally wears a beard and a tall striped and starred hat, and he appears to be dressed to look like the American flag. Who is he? He is "Uncle Sam," a cartoon symbol for the United States of America.

There is much debate about who Uncle Sam was and how the symbol came to be. The first mention of him was in a Troy, New York, newspaper article that appeared on September 7, 1813. It seems that a certain meat-processing plant owner named Sam Wilson began stamping the meat sold to the United States Army during the War of 1812 with the letters "U.S." The meatpackers at his plant called Sam Wilson "Uncle Sam," and the story was that the initials "U.S." really stood for "Uncle Sam" Wilson rather than "United States." The nickname stuck, and from then on everything belonging to the United States government began to be called "Uncle Sam's." Soon, cartoonists latched on to this idea, and they began drawing varieties of Uncle Sam in political cartoons. The most famous depictions of Uncle Sam were on World War I and World War II military recruiting posters. Today, no patriotic gathering would be complete without an appearance by someone dressed as Uncle Sam.

Text copyright © 2000 by Delno C. West and Jean M. West

Illustrations copyright © 2000 by Christopher Manson

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