Monday, July 2

Liberty Lee's Tail of Independence

Welcome to TLC Book Tours' virtual tour of Liberty Lee's Tail of Independence.

This picture book, written by Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes, published by Little Patriot Press, is an illustrated poem that tells the tale of America's founding through the narrative lens of a mouse counterpart to the Framers of the Constitution, the title character, Liberty Lee.

I wasn't expecting a poem. It's enough of an undertaking to explain everything from Colonization to the Battle at Lexington and Concord to a target audience of squirrelly 4-6 year-olds, without trying to do it in rhyme. Yet, they've done it, and surprisingly well, as long as the reader can avoid falling into the cadence pit. The authors did not skimp on vocabulary, but used traditional verbiage connected with the American Revolution. I appreciated that. It helps make this story more than a mere sing-song tale that one tires of reading after one or two rounds.

It took us a full two weeks to read the story, not due to rhythm issues, or wordiness, but as a result of the illustrations. They are vivid, and rich. They look simple, but are incredibly detailed. Each illustration (most are full, two-page spreads) offers a panorama of delightful scenes to unfold and delve into. The detail is fantastic, and it's not unusual for the children to spend ten or fifteen minutes going over every vignette on a page.

This isn't a book they'll want to fly through, and if you try, you'll be frustrated. Liberty Lee's Tail of Independence is the kind of book you meander through, letting your children show you all there is to explore, doubling back, spinning off for a while on inspired tangents, eventually settling back down to continue the journey.

There are additional bonus features for adults and children. The children enjoyed finding Liberty Lee (or one of his ancestors) tucked away in each page. There is also an eagle hidden in each illustration. (It's not always the whole eagle - sometimes it's just his head. It's a nice added layer for older, or more ambitious, children to take up after they've found all the mice, and poured over the other scenes.)

The Tail End offers additional tidbits of information and resources designated for parents and teachers.

In sum, we enjoyed this book. The authors attempted to cover a lot of ground in a condensed space, and the narrative doesn't flow as smoothly as I would prefer for a storybook, but it is solid, and unabashedly designed to be an uplifting, encouraging story, which the authors performed nicely. The illustrations tie the story together well. It's the combination, though, that makes it the type of picture book I'd want to have on my shelf: a good story that piques the children's imaginations, set among lavish, many-layered illustrations that draw in a child's eye and mind. I love that, and I enjoyed this book, on many levels.

Kiss those babies ~ and keep reading with them!