A historical fable, told in very few words, prettily illustrated and rather wonderful in its elegant brevityâ€”except there is almost no evidence to support the Betsy Ross myth.
The text is minimal and often rhymes: "Betsy ripped. / Rip, rip. // Seven rich, / Crimson strips." Betsy Ross is shown cutting and dyeing and pinning this country's first flag, with its 13 alternating red and white stripes and its blue field behind a circle of 13 stars. Lloyd has used fabric appliquÃƒÂƒÃ‚Â© sewn and fused, stamping and stitching to make the illustrations, lovely in their simple graphic shapes and clean design. Her illustrator's note explains her fascinating process. An author's note simply says, "According to legend," and goes on to cite the stories of George Washington's pencil sketch for the first flag and Betsy's change of his six-pointed star for her five-pointed one but does not explain that there is no historical evidence for any of it. The Betsy Ross legend did not appear until late in the 19th century, nearly 100 years after the supposed events. Ross was, however, an upholsterer, and such folk did indeed make flags and other items. An appendix illustrates how to make a five-pointed "Betsy Ross Star" with one cut on a properly folded piece of fabric or paper.
A bit of bibliography and a stronger admission that this is not history (or herstory) but legend would make this a stronger book. (Picture book. 4-7)Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
PreS-Gr 3--Fourteen spreads with four to six rhythmic words on each one tell the story of the first American flag. The title page shows George Washington on his horse conversing with the seamstress in front of her shop. Then, "Betsy ripped./Rip, rip." The next spread reads, "Seven rich,/Crimson strips," and, finally, "Betsy grinned./Grin, grin." "Old Glory whipped/In the wind." The large, simple text, paired with the irresistible appliqué art, makes this a perfect introduction to the Stars and Stripes. Using cotton fabric, embroidery thread, dye, paint, and linoleum-block prints, Lloyd captures the period, hard work, and ingenuity of this favorite colonial figure. Close-ups of each step of the process, coupled with images of the smiling woman in her white cap, long pink dress with white collar and apron, and black lace shoes, scissors snipping by candlelight, re-create the experience for the youngest readers. When youngsters read the final pages, they will feel the same pride in our flag as its creator must have felt. An author's note explains that Washington's original sketch called for six-point stars as he assumed that five-points would be too difficult to cut. Apparently, Ross showed him how, with a series of five folds, the latter could be cut with a single clip of the scissors. A final page shows children how to make their own "Betsy Ross Stars" using paper or fabric.--Barbara Auerbach, PS 217, Brooklyn, NY[Page 129]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.