A Place Called America: A Story of the Land and People

Abrams. Aug. 2023. 64p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781419743894.
Gr 1-5–This informational picture book uses soft illustrations and crisp language to share the stories of the land currently known as America. Beginning with the arrival of Indigenous peoples over 15,000 years ago, jumping to the arrival of colonial powers in the 1500s and 1600s, and ending with the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Thermes tells the story of America through the people who have inhabited it and the ever-changing boundaries on its maps. A robust time line fills the front and back endpapers and extends notable events into 2022. Rather than mark time with famous individuals, the narrative focuses on peoples and shared experiences. This is particularly effective when presenting facts about systemic oppression and injustice. The illustrations are gentle and approachable. They contain both thoughtful depictions of humans and informative, accessible maps. This book tries neither to hide nor glorify an unjust and tumultuous past; rather, it amplifies the many people and experiences of a shared land. Its format is cleverly deceptive; this picture book packs more intellectual punch than many history texts and deserves a place on every shelf. Ideal for elementary ages, this could also serve as an excellent overview for older readers.
VERDICT Thermes excels in providing a large scale overview of America’s history rooted in the experiences of many, rather than few. A first purchase and a remarkable undertaking.

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