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Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters Hardcover – 16 Nov 2010


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers; 1ST edition (16 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037583527X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375835278
  • Product Dimensions: 23.7 x 1 x 31.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,950,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"He has been deliberately liberal in his choice. It is a very beautiful and lyrical book. The roots of the pictures go back to classic American art. It is a very beautifully made book." (Former Children's Laureate Michael Rosen in conversation with John Wilson BBC Radio 4, Front Row)

"A moving tribute to 13 influential Americans and how they helped shape the US . . . The message applies to us all - anything is possible and we can achieve whatever we set our minds to. It's a lovely book to share with children. Can we read it and enjoy it? Yes we can" (Natasha Harding The Sun)

"Of Thee I Sing is a beautiful hardback picture book that celebrates the potential within each of us to pursue our dreams and forge our own paths" (Junior News & Mail) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Book Description

A stunning picture book by President Barack Obama that is a treasure to share in every American family. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ada Nkechi on 26 Nov. 2010
Format: Hardcover
When I first heard the subtitle of President Obama's children's book, 'A Letter to My Daughters', I thought, I'd love to read that. A love-letter from Barack Obama, the weaver of heady and gorgeous visions. The private hopes and fears of a public figure, poured out. A father willing a better world into being for his children, prophesying over them.

To some degree, yes, that's what Of Thee I Sing is. In the rhythmic and poetic language you'd expect, a father tells his children how wonderful they are, how they 'bring dancing rhythms' and 'sunshine spills' into his day. As he lists his daughters' qualities, spread by spread, he tells the stories of thirteen American icons who also exemplify those characteristics: the courageous Jackie Robinson, the tenacious Martin Luther King, the inspiring Cesar Chavez. It is a roll-call of America's best. Loren Long's pure and rich pastel colour scheme captures this well. The optimistic blue sky of the cover catches the tone of the text, if not of the times. The opening image gets me the most: a wiry man in a shirt stands with his back to us, watching his daughters march away from him down a windy path. His hands seem clasped, as if with anxiety. The illustrations provide delight, attenuating even the imprint page, and showing the icons as children, and then as adults. However, as the crowd of heroes grows, they seem anxious to get off the page and go and do what they are each so good at.

Although the text brings each lofty characteristic and achievement back to Obama's daughters, the voice seems to speak not to the children, but of them. It soars over their heads in abstracts, addressing instead perhaps a national audience. As far as I know, children have never enjoyed being talked over.
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Format: Hardcover
I wasn't planning on reading this book, but since it found its way into my hands, I thought I could just as well take a look. Besides, it's but a short read and it took me no more than a few minutes to go through it.
So, what is it that the American president speaks or rather sings about, in this slim volume that he's written for his daughters? Well, for the USA, of course. He starts by asking "Have I ever told you...?" and then goes on and answers the questions he poses himself, and thus teaches his girls and the reader, in a simple and straightforward way, about the history of the land. He talks about all there is to know about the American nation and the people who helped build it in one way or another and about the creation of the multicultural society of today: about Georgia O' Keefe, the painter, who "helped us see big beauty in what is small", about Albert Einstein, who gave the world a wealth of knowledge, about Jackie Robinson, the first black baseball player, about the revolutionary and healer Sitting Bull, about Billie Holiday, the singer, about Helen Keller, who managed, even deaf and blind, to give the people lessons in strength and in courage, about Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, about the social reformer and Nobel Prize winner Jane Addams, who did everything within her powers to change this world of ours for the better, about the man who said to the people never to give up and changed forever the way of life of people in America, Martin Luther King, about Neil Armstrong, the explorer, and about Cezar Chavez, who fought for the rights of the farmers, about Abraham Lincoln, who said that all Americans are part of a big family and about George Washington, who declared that: "America is made up of people of every kind... They are all part of you...
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Format: Hardcover
We have all become so accustomed to reading about Obama, the man himself, both biographically and autobiographically, that it is a rare thing indeed, to find him, personally, stepping outside of what could be called his more obvious comfort zone, i.e. of the political arena, and into that other comfort zone which he holds dear, i.e. his relationship with family, in this case, most specially, his daughters Malia and Sasha. The book is, indeed, dedicated to them.

The strands of this "letter", gradually draw the reader ever more closely into what his most intimate feelings are for his beloved girls; but, with a simplicity to which all who read the book can relate, but which, however, belies the intensity it is intended to project. What is more, it is this very simplicity which ensures that the reader goes back to the book from time to time, to see for oneself that we really are in tune with his innermost sentiments, although with a kind of surrealism that bears witness to the fact that we might, just, be intruding somewhat, into his private world.

I intend to purchase copies for my own 4 grandchildren, ages 4, 6, 7 and 8, as a precursor to the books that they will come across, about the Great Man, and will avidly want to read, in the future.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 17 Nov. 2010
Format: Hardcover
great book, just what the little people of today need and just to make a point to the first review this book was written before he got into power - grow up.
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By Zoe Willis on 15 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Such a thoughtful and beautiful book. i found this by chance when ordering some library books online so ordered this also. Then I liked it so much i bought a copy. I love the little biographies of all the people Barack Obama features in the book and the illustrations fit his words so well. Have been reading it myself and also to my one year old son who enjoys the pictures and the rhythm of the words. This book can be enjoyed by people of all ages. You are never too young or too old to open a book and feel uplifted.
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