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*Tour America: A Journey Through Poems & Art* by Diane Siebert, illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson - young readers book review



Tour America: A Journey Through Poems & Art
by Diane Siebert, illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson
Ages 9-12 64 pages SeaStar June 2006 Hardcover    

Tour America may technically be a children's book, but, really, it can be enjoyed and appreciated by people of all ages. If you love art and poetry, or have dreams of traveling across the country - or even the world - then this is a great book for you.

Tour America: A Journey Through Poems And Art is a trip across a huge, diverse country told in poems by Diane Siebert and artwork by Stephen T. Johnson that will appeal to anyone. It starts out with a poem about the funny names of some towns - Bonanza, Sugarland, Rainbow City, Dinosaur, and Soddy-Daisy are some of the best - that will make you laugh and is a great introduction to this cross-country trip.

Each page of the book has artwork. One of the best is a picture of gargoyles in New York City, and a fact that relates to the poem and picture on the page. Especially interesting is a tidbit about Lucy The Elephant, a wooden elephant designed to attract prospective buyers of land in Margate, New Jersey. All of the pictures are brilliant, but one of the Aurora Borealis in Alaska is breathtaking, and the poem on the page is similarly wonderful. Just because I've pointed out a few of the best parts of this book doesn't mean the rest of it isn't magnificent, because to say that would be a lie.

The colorful, interesting artwork adds another dimension to what would otherwise simply be a book of poetry. Wonderful poetry, but, still poetry. Stephen T. Johnson's artwork is inspiring and helps the reader to further visualize the scenes in Diane Siebert's poetry. Stephen T. Johnson is an amazing artist and has put his full effort into each and every one of these great drawings and paintings. I may not be an art expert, but the pictures make this book one of my favorites. Lots of children's books that I've seen recently have great illustrations, but this surpasses any of those.

Diane Siebert's poetry does, at times, make the artwork even a little unnecessary, painting pictures with words that are nearly as vivid as those done with a paintbrush. Poetry is another topic that I'm not an expert on, but these are great poems. They flow together wonderfully when read aloud; no rhymes seem forced. Every word fits in place brilliantly. These poems are sure to be a hit even with those who aren't big fans of poetry. Tour America might even make those who can't stand poetry - and I know a few - change their minds.

Both parts of this great book, the poetry and the artwork, are magnificent, but neither would be the same by itself. The artwork and poems come together to show the author's journey across America, and what a diverse, interesting, and beautiful country this is. It will make even the laziest of readers want to get up, leave everything behind and travel across the country. I would love to see the sights described in Tour America for myself, and I hope I someday get the chance. One can only hope they will be as brilliant in reality as Diane Siebert and Stephen T. Johnson make them seem.
Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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