CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 31 . . . . April 13, 2012
Monica Kulling has written an easy-reading explanation of the birth of the American National Anthem in Francis Scott Key’s Star-Spangled Banner. In this 48-page account of the short time leading up to the War of 1812, and Key’s role in that war as a failed reserve soldier, Kulling gives young readers a clear understanding of the war as a conflict between Britain and the U.S. for territory during a time when Britain was already at war with France. This can be an easily confusing concept.The situation in which Key and his associates sail after a British ship to negotiate the release of a friend is told using simple vocabulary, short sentences and page-sized illustrations. All of the illustrations by Richard Walz add to the reader’s understandings of events,
The final event depicted in the book is the British attack on the American fort, Fort McHenry. When the smoke clears in the morning and Key sees that the American flag is still flying, he knows that the fort has not fallen to the British, and so he writes his famous poem, with the line “our flag was still there.” Unfortunately, the volume does not contain a copy of the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner. That addition would have helped Canadian students who do not know the song to understand the significance of the poem written in the moment of this particular battle.
Robert Groberman is a grade two teacher at Kirkbride Elementary School in Surrey, BC.
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