Book Review: For Spacious Skies

Welcome back, friends! I’m so excited to bring you a truly gorgeous book from Lone Star Lit Book Tours. For Spacious Skies is the illustrated biography of Katharine Lee Bates, writer of “America the Beautiful.” This educational picture book, penned by Nancy Churnin, is brought to life by moving prose and beautiful pantings by Olga Baumert.

I studied art at university, and Impressionism has long been my favorite art movement. There’s just something about the way these artists paint their brush strokes to bring the image alive. Olga Baumert’s artwork brings to mind something of the old masters. I know I’ll be keeping an eye out for future works and collaborations by Baumert and Churnin. I hope you will too, after you discover For Spacious Skies. Keep reading for my review of this fantastic book, and don’t miss the giveaway listed below!

FOR SPACIOUS SKIES

KATHARINE LEE BATES AND THE INSPIRATION FOR “AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL”

by NANCY CHURNIN

illustrated by OLGA BAUMERT

 

 

Picture Book Biography / Women’s Suffrage / Woman Poet

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Date of Publication: April 1, 2020

Number of Pages: 32

Scroll down for the giveaway!


Synopsis

As a little girl growing up during the Civil War, Katharine Lee Bates grew up to become a poet, professor, and social activist. She not only wrote “America the Beautiful” but gave this anthem to America as a gift.

A member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and a suffragist who stood up for a woman’s right to vote and lived to cast her ballot in presidential elections, Katharine believed in the power of words to make a difference.

In “America the Beautiful,” her vision of the nation as a great family, united from sea to shining sea, continues to uplift and inspire us all.


PRAISE for For Spacious Skies

“Churnin tells that story in a spare and lively text beautifully complemented by double-page spreads highlighting Baumert’s gorgeous panoramic illustrations . . . A handsome volume befitting its subject.”—Kirkus Reviews

 

“The story ends on a high note in 1920, with Bates casting her ballot after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted voting rights to women . . . The richly colored, nicely composed artwork will help children visualize the period setting while enjoying the portrayals of Bates and beautiful landscapes. A picture-book biography of a notable American.”—Booklist

 

“Nancy Churnin has written a delightful book that helps children understand the many dimensions of my great-aunt Katharine Lee Bates. This book does an excellent job conveying her ardent passion for equal rights and for her country. She was a poet, a professor, and a world traveler, but she was first and foremost a citizen who loved America, in all its beauty and diversity.”—Katharine Lee Holland


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Review

5 of 5 Stars

Beauty comes from the ashes. No matter how dark or bleak the current times, there will always be artists who bring light back into our lives. Katharine Lee Bates was one such artist, and author Nancy Churnin brings her story to life with For Spacious Skies.


Raised in the wake of the Civil War and Lincoln’s assassination, Katharine saw first-hand the scars the nation’s tragedy evoked on its people. She longed to bring the beauty she found in the country around her to the forefront of people’s minds. She wanted to bring them the same hope she saw in the swells of the ocean. Her opportunity came through school, and Wellesley College for women.


It is sometimes easy for us to forget how far women’s rights have come in the last two-hundred years. Author Nancy Churnin reminds us through Katharine’s seemingly impossible journey. In a time when women were expected for marriage and children, Katharine wasn’t afraid to seize her chances for more. But she didn’t stop there. Katharine wrote about the ugliness that festered in the nation’s injustices, for women and the nation’s impoverished. She became a professor and a civil rights advocate and used her gift for words to inspire change.


Much like Katharine, Nancy Churnin highlights the life of Katharine Lee Bates with all the right points in this illustrated biography. The language Churnin uses is a happy blend of prose and truth, yet the structure isn’t too complex. I was enchanted, and look forward to reading more from this author. A perfect teaching tool for older elementary students, For Spacious Skies finds its strength in its underlying message for younger generations: the smallest person can spark big change.


I found myself truly moved, not just by Katharine’s journey, but by Olga Baumert’s sweeping illustrations. Baumert paints with a mixed style of post and neo-impressionism, while evoking the same wonder Katharine must have felt when finding her inspiration for “America the Beautiful.” Everything seems to be in motion with each page, from the simply rendered people and buildings to the artist’s rich landscapes. Painted with beautiful brushstrokes and colors as bold as the song it portrays, For Spacious Skies is a delightful and inspirational read.

 

**I was provided with a copy of For Spacious Skies by the publisher and this is my voluntary and honest review.**



MEET NANCY CHURNIN

 

Nancy Churnin is the award-winning author of eight picture book biographies with a ninth due in 2021. 

Beautiful Shades of Brown, The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring is A Mighty Girl pick that will be featured at the 2020 Ruby Bridges Reading Festival at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee in May. The William Hoy Story, a Texas 2X2 pick, has been on multiple state reading lists. Manjhi Moves a Mountain is the winner of the 2018 South Asia Book Award and a Junior Library Guild selection. Martin & Anne, the Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank is on the 2020 Notable Book for a Global Society list from the International Literacy Association. Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing is a 2019 Sydney Taylor and National Council for the Social Studies Notable. 

Nancy graduated cum laude from Harvard, has a master’s from Columbia, and lives in Plano, Texas, with her husband, Dallas Morning News arts writer Michael Granberry, their dog named Dog, and two cantankerous cats. 

Website ║ Blog ║ Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Instagram

Goodreads ║ Amazon Author Page ║ BookBub


GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

THREE WINNERS

ONE WINNER receives signed copies of both 

For Spacious Skies and Beautiful Shades of Brown 

TWO WINNERS each receive a signed copy of For Spacious Skies

April 16-27, 2020

(US only for signed copies; international winners via Book Depository)

 

A RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY


 

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6 thoughts on “Book Review: For Spacious Skies

Add yours

    1. Thanks so much Kristine! I truly loved this one. I was always a huge fan of history books as a kid, and this is exactly the sort I would have devoured. That’s part of the staying power of illustrated books, I think. Even as an adult we’re able to still learn from and enjoy them 🙂

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    1. This was such a gorgeous book, and truly inspiring! I think it was actually featured on A Mighty Girl, so I would definitely recommend to your granddaughters 😀 I need to get this to my 12-year-old niece as well.

      Like

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