By: Todd M. Zimmermann
Illustrated by: Kyle Hernandez
Publisher: Oliver and Friends, Inc.
Publication Date: April 2020
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: July 2020
The Fourth of July is just around the corner and Mom and Dad are busy getting the red, white, and blue decorations out. Henry and Holly, however, just don't seem interested. They'd rather play on their "devices." Will they be able to get into the spirit of the holiday?
When Mom asks the kids to go to the attic to get the flags they need for decorating, Henry and Holly don't immediately jump into action. Instead, they want a few more minutes to play. Meanwhile, up in the attic, Oliver and the other ornaments are preparing a celebration of their own. By the time Henry and Holly make their way to the attic, the ornaments are already marching and playing patriotic music. Both kids are mesmerized by the festivities.
When Oliver, the ornament at the center of the story, is asked by Holly why they are making such a big deal out of the Fourth of July, it's time for Oliver to jump into action with a little history lesson. Oliver tells the kids about some of America's great leaders, famous people who made a difference, and describes some of the amazing beauty of the country. Will Oliver's little history lesson be enough to get the kids excited about the Fourth of July?
It's nice to read a book about patriotism aimed at children during these trying times. When it seems like every other news story is about problems with our country, it's important, especially for children, to be reminded of what a truly remarkable place the United States is and that the American Dream is still possible. At the end of the book are the lyrics to eight popular patriotic songs as well as a two-page spread where the reader is encouraged to write down "What I Love About America." The illustrations are bright, and yes, use red, white, and blue as a frequent color scheme throughout. While the story is a bit long, and younger children may lose interest, the points the book makes are important. Many of the historical events the ornaments describe each get a very brief mention (many just a short sentence) and while that works for some events, several will be hard for any child to understand ('"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," Oliver concluded with the words of Ronald Reagan.'). In addition, a few presidents are referenced just by their initials (FDR, JFK) which means either parents will have some explaining to do, or children will need to do their own research for a better understanding. In contrast, other important elements, such as religious freedom, get just the right amount of text to allow young readers to grasp the meaning. Overall, this is a nice book that will introduce children to the remarkable freedoms and opportunities our country has to offer and would be a good starting point for curious children to begin a project researching the history of the United States.
Quill says: While the book has some minor flaws, Oliver Doodle Dandy is a good story to introduce children to what an amazing country the United States of America truly is, and the fantastic opportunities it has to offer everyone.