Friday, December 22, 2017

Fact Friday and Review: Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers. Illustrated by Shawn Harris. 104 p. Chronicle Books, LLC, September, 2017. 9781452162812. (Review from purchased copy.)

This went on the morning announcements: Our Fact Friday feature is a great example of why one is never too old for picture books. In Her Right Foot, author Dave Eggers breaks the fourth wall to address the reader. He relates plenty of fascinating facts from its conception to its building, unbuilding and rebuilding. He also challenges the reader to contemplate the relevance of her symbolism in these contentious times. You think you know all there is to know about the Statue of Liberty. Read this book to find out.

Review: The very best teachers are great storytellers. This is especially true for social studies teachers. Dave Eggers would be a great social studies teacher because he tells a terrific story - factual, fascinating and fun. I hate to admit this, but my knowledge of the Statue of Liberty is cursory at best. I accompanied the eighth grade on two trips to visit the statue. One trip, the day was blustery and rainy so we basically got off the ferry and walked to the plaza to view the statue before catching the next ferry out. The next time, the weather was gorgeous and we walked the circumference of the island to view the statue from all angles. That was a few years ago. I can't say that I noticed her right foot.

The  social studies teacher takes his students to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty as part of his immigration unit. I'm sure he does a great job of prepping the kids. The LA teachers even get involved by reading Hope and Tears: Ellis Island voices by Gwenyth Swain. Her Right Foot would be a perfect addition to both classes.

As I mentioned in the morning announcement, Eggers breaks the fourth wall to address the reader. Some find this meta-fiction annoying. If used sparingly, I don't. I find it effective and engaging. The use of white space is interesting too, as it focuses the reader whatever the age. Shawn Harris must have been a very busy man as there are tons of illustrations here. The energetic and pleasing cut-paper and ink illustrations feature a variety of perspectives and a diverse cast of characters.

Backmatter includes photographs, of the statue and her right foot as well as the plaque that contains Emma Lazarus' poem, The New Colossus. There's a long list of suggestions for further reading and six sources. 

Her Right Foot belongs in every school and public library collection.

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