My Fourth of July by Jerry Spinelli

My Fourth of July by Jerry Spinelli, illustration by Larry Day. Holiday House, 2019, 38 pages.

Reading Level: Picture Book, ages 4-8

Recommended for: ages 3-7

What’s the best day of summer—maybe even the best day of the whole year? For our nameless protagonist, it’s the Fourth. Banners waving, kids marching, horns blowing—all of it outside in the blazing sun. After an impromptu neighborhood parade it’s time to hurry up Mom and Dad (“I’m in charge of hurrying”), load up the picnic wagon and head for the park for an afternoon of food, games, food, songs, music, food, races, and more food. The day ends, of course, with fireworks—after an interminable wait for it to get dark enough, the first “umbrella of lights” glows in a thousand faces. “My eyes cannot hold the wonders I see. My heart is cheering.” This is a celebration not so much of America as of community as seen through the eyes of a 7- or-8-year-old boy. Family, friends, neighbors—the Fourth is a community celebration like no other, ending in a splash of glorious lighted sky. Exuberant pictures add to the mood of uncomplicated, unapologetic joy.

Overall Rating: 4 (out of 5)

  • Artistic/literary value: 4.5
  • Worldview/moral value: 3.5

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Also at Redeemed Reader:

  • Firefly July: a Year of Very Short Poems, celebrates all seasons, not just summer, but why not extend the joy? See our starred review.

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Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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