Thursday, April 23, 2020

Book Blog Tour and Giveaway - For Spacious Skies: Katharine Lee Bates and the Inspiration for "America the Beautiful" by Nancy Churnin

Nancy Churnin
illustrated by Olga Baumert

Genres: 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!
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.

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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
I usually don't judge a book by its cover, but I'm not going to lie. When I saw the gorgeous cover for Nancy Churnin's children's book For Spacious Skies, I fell in love with the cover and knew I had to read the book. I'm really glad I did because everything about it was fantastic, and I even learned a few things I had never known about the song America the Beautiful and its creator, Katharine Lee Bates.

For Spacious Skies tells the condensed biography of Katharine Lee Bates, the creator of the song America the Beautiful although when it was written, it was originally a poem. Katharine Lee Bates comes across as a fantastic person. She lived in a time when men were seen as being far superior than women, but she didn't let that stop her from getting an education and being a voice for those that felt they had no voice. 

I admit that I didn't know the history behind America the Beautiful, so this book was the perfect starting point. I think my favorite fact in the book was that Katharine Lee Bates never wanted or accepted any payment for penning America the Beautiful. She just wanted to give something back to the country she loved so much. 

This is a biography picture book for older children, and I believe that it's written in a way that speaks to children and will draw in their attention quite easily. The length is perfect, and the wording is fantastic. Everything flows perfectly. I also liked the fact that Nancy Churnin includes an author's note as well as a timeline of Katharine's life and accomplishments at the end. The author's note goes into a little more detail about Katharine's life which is great for adults, children who want to learn a bit more, or for a discussion. The timeline makes it easy to picture events as they happened.

The illustrations in For Spacious Skies are absolutely breathtaking! Olga Baumert is the illustrator, and her talent shines through in every page. Each illustration is full of detail and really helps to drive the story. Although my 5 year old was a little young for this book, he did love the illustrations in it and even asked if we could just look at the pictures as they are quite colorful and really draw you in. Seriously, I could go on and on about amazing the illustrations are, but it's better if you just pick up a copy of the book yourself to see what I'm talking about.

Overall, I feel that For Spacious Skies is the ultimate girl power book. Katharine Lee Bates was obviously a force to be reckoned with according to this book. If you're looking for a book with a strong female and beautiful illustrations, pick up a copy of For Spacious Skies. I would definitely recommend For Spacious Skies by Nancy Churnin to adults and children aged 8 and older. I feel as if this book needs to be required reading in all elementary schools and should be in every school library. That's how good and informative it is. Grab a copy, and see for yourself!
(A special thank you to Edelweiss for an eBook copy of For Spacious Skies and to Nancy Churnin and Lone Star Literary Life for a hardback copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.)
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. 

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ONE WINNER receives signed copies of both For Spacious Skies and Beautiful Shades of Brown by Nancy Churnin!
TWO WINNERS each receive a signed copy of For Spacious Skies by Nancy Churnin!
April 16-27, 2020
(US only for signed copies; international winners via Book Depository)
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  1. What a fabulous, rave review! Love an enlightening girl-power story. Thanks for the post!

  2. I liked the synopsis and review. It sounds like a really interesting book. Thank you for sharing.