Cover image for I pledge allegiance : the Pledge of Allegiance
I pledge allegiance : the Pledge of Allegiance
Martin, Bill.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 23 cm
Illustrations and the words to the Pledge of Allegiance are accompanied by simple explanations of their meaning.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.9 0.5 61745.
Format :


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With simple, straightforward language and playfully quirky illustrations, a team of celebrated children's book creators takes a look at each word of the Pledge of Allegiance -- and explains what it means.

"I led a pigeon to the flag" . . . "and to the wee puppet" . . . "one nation, and a vegetable" . . . What was that again? Children in the United States of America have been reciting the Pledge of Allegiance since 1892 - and for about that long, they've found its big words confusing. Now, beloved children's book author Bill Martin Jr (BROWN BEAR, BROWN BEAR, WHAT DO YOU SEE?), fellow literacy expert Michael Sampson, and Caldecott Honor-winning artist Chris Raschka give America's children a hand, and explain this patriotic poem once and for all.

Written especially for children, the Pledge of Allegiance was first recited on October 12, 1892, by 12 million children across the country and has been memorized by generations of children ever since. Isn't it time they understood the meaning behind its words?

Author Notes

Children's writer Bill Martin, Jr. was born and raised in Hiawatha, Kansas. Ironically, the future early childhood educator had difficulty reading until he taught himself, before graduating with a teaching certificate from Emporia State University.

After graduation, he taught high school drama and journalism in Kansas. He served in the Army Air Force as a newspaper editor during World War II. He wrote his first book, The Little Squeegy Bug, for his brother, Bernard, an artist, to illustrate while recuperating from war wounds. It was published in 1945 and the brothers would go on to collaborate on 10 more books by 1955.

He earned a master's degree and doctorate in early childhood education from Northwestern University and became principal of an elementary school in Evanston, Ill., where he developed innovative reading programs. In 1962 Martin moved to New York City to become editor of the school division of Holt, Rhinehart and Winston where he developed the literature-based reading programs Sounds of Language and The Instant Readers.

Martin returned to full-time writing in 1972 and ended up writing over three hundred children's books during his career. His titles include; Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?, Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you Hear?, The Ghost-Eye Tree, Barn Dance, and Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom. He died on August 11, 2004 at the age of 88.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

K-Gr. 4. Finally, here's a picture book that helps young children move beyond rote recitation of the Pledge to find meaning in its language. Deconstructing the poem word by word, the bright spreads feature a word or phrase in large type with explanations appearing in smaller print. Simple, precise definitions for words such as allegiance and republic mix with historical facts (including who wrote the Pledge and when) and insight into patriotism and its symbols ("Why our flag isn't orange and pink" ). Raschka's cheerful, abstract ink-and-paper-scrap collages really work here. God, for example, is a spiral of deep-blue paper scraps above non-denominational text: "Many people believe that a democracy is a reflection of how God thinks--every single person is important." On another spread, a crowd of brush-lined cartoon figures and bright color blocks show each figure's uniqueness as well as the dazzling impact of the united whole. Profound in their simplicity, the text and images are still difficult, and they may work best in group discussion. Given all the recent controversy over the Pledge, this is the book parents and teachers have been waiting for. --Gillian Engberg

Publisher's Weekly Review

Martin and Sampson's (previously teamed for Adam, Adam, What Do You See?) timely volume breaks the Pledge of Allegiance into digestible phrases or words and explains their meaning along with some history. Raschka's artwork makes a felicitous match; his highly conceptual style keeps the treatment playful yet respectful. Dressing the pages in a patriotic palette of snappy red, white and blue (jazzed up with torn-paper collage in shades of orange, green, black, yellow and more), he creates a series of clever visual counterpoints to the authors' careful deconstruction. As the text defines and explains each phrase or concept, Raschka bolsters the passages with child-friendly images. For "allegiance is loyalty," readers see a dog wagging its tail while, for "liberty" (described as an individual's freedom "to make his or her own choices"), individuals literally choose their own path as they step out onto stripes of various colors. The authors also include interesting background, such as the meaning behind the colors in the American flag ("Red is for courage. White is for purity and innocence. Blue is for loyalty and fairness") and the pledge's origins (it was written by Francis Bellamy in 1892 as a poem for children). Simple without being simplistic, this cleverly designed volume spells out the concrete meaning behind the words in the Pledge of Allegiance while deftly communicating the democratic spirit and principles that inspired it. Ages 6-9. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2-This engaging, informative book not only emphasizes the importance of this ritual, but also gives the history and significance of each word and phrase, e.g., "A pledge is a promise." "Allegiance is loyalty." Raschka's eye-catching and appealing illustrations done in ink and torn paper add interest and lightness to the pages. His spare, stylized cartoon figures effectively convey the intangible concepts of liberty and justice with the same deft touch as for the concrete concepts. This title is perfect for primary-grade children as they learn to recite this oath.-Krista Tokarz, Cuyahoga County Public Library, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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