Monday, June 15, 2020

Independence Day! My Fourth of July by Jerry Spinelli

NOISE!I wake up! I rush to the window.
Parade! Drums! Cymbals!
It's the best day of all--
The Fourth of July!

The boy rushes downstairs, just as his mom takes a pie out of the oven, and races out the door in his pajamas to march along with the band. He gets to sprinkle paprika on the tray of deviled eggs and helps dad load his red wagon with their picnic goodies (and a surprise box of chocolate-covered strawberries).
"Don't forget the pie!"

(I'm in charge of not forgetting!)

Finally ... out the door!

At the town park they dance to the band, eat and eat, and the boy and a friend join in waving at a passing train decorated with bunting, fall giggling, flat on their faces in the sack race, sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in front of the band, and visit the monkeys at the zoo....
We cook our hot dogs on the grill in the gazebo. I like mine with black stripes.

Then as the sun sinks behind the trees' cool shadows, the boy finishes the last deviled egg and helps his parents clean up, and then they head for the baseball field for the best part of the day. He and his little dog almost fall asleep on the tablecloth in the red wagon as he waits, until--
A thump in the dark... a sudden umbrella of lights...
five thousand faces aglow...


My eyes cannot hold the wonders I see.
My heart is cheering.

Newbery Award-winning Jerry Spinelli's My Fourth of July (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, 2019), is a series of literary snapshots, perfectly executed in the happy full-page illustrations of Larry Day, of an idyllic Independence Day celebration, a day with not a hint of sunburn, or upset stomachs, or cranky kids (or dads), in a portrayal of the holiday in a classic small town, with a bandstand with Dixieland music for dancing, a zoo with giraffes looking over the fence, a duck pond, tree-shaded fields with room for checked picnic cloths and folding chairs, and a grassy ballpark just right for watching fireworks lying on your back--just the way the Fourth should be celebrated. Not all July 4 observations share all these joys, but as a modern but nostalgically old fashioned Fourth, this lovely book makes a great read-aloud for sharing.

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