This Land Is Your Land Review

This Land Is Your Land
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What a wonderful book! Woody Guthrie's simple but evocative lyrics (with all of the original verses restored) are brilliantly set off by the marvelous folk art oil paintings of Kathy Jakobsen.
Jakoben's artwork is what will draw you into the book. Double page landscapes depict the plains, the desert, and the dust blown wheat fields of Oklahoma. All four seasons are beautifully rendered as well. There are cityscapes (including a striking New York City with the Twin Towers still standing) and idyllic country landscapes. The Golden Gate Bridge, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Brooklyn Bridge, St. Louis Gateway Arch, Old Faithful, Seattle Space Needle, and Coney Island, among others, are American landmarks that pepper the pages of the book.
And the figure of Woody with his guitar wanders through all of them as our great American troubadour. (My kids play a game of lets find Woody on every page.)
The layout of the book keeps it endlessly interesting for both children and adults. Most of the verses are depicted with a double page painting, while the repeating chorus takes two pages that split into multiple scenes of Americana. In the Four Corners of these pages are small quotes from Guthrie's other song lyrics and writings. Children are captured by the bright and simple artwork, while adults can become lost within the multiple possibilities that are offered on every page.
This great American anthem of the common man and his love of the land, "made for you and me", receives a truly worthy treatment in this book. It is both a favorite of my pre-school children, and one of my most cherished books. Even if you don't have kids, it would make a fine book to put out on your coffee table to delight your guests with its many charms.
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