Land that I love: Celebrating Monica Kulling's Ode to Francis Scott Key on Valentine's Day

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

We are thinking about the things we love on this fine Valentine's Day, and you know how much I love all of you.  I love too (and of course) my boys, my family, my friends, my students.  I love the books that others write, the music that others sing, the dances that I watch, edge-of-my-seat style, the gardens that grow and the gardeners who grow them, the neighbors I find when out taking my walks, my church peeps who make me laugh, well... you get the idea.  There's a lot of loving to do, and I'm happy to be alive to do it.

But I also love this country, and today I am celebrating a Valentine written to these United States of America by one Monica Kulling, a prolific and talented children's author who happens to reside in Toronto. Monica's most recent book is a Step 3 Random House selection entitled Francis Scott Key's Star-Spangled Banner.  Endearingly illustrated by Richard Walz, this is the story of that lyricist lawyer who lived with his wife and eleven children near the Potomac River and found himself, during the Battle of 1812, on a British boat arguing for the release of an American doctor friend. Key won his argument.  And yet, when it was time to leave the British boat and sail back to his harbor, Key was forced to remain among the Brits, who were launching their attack on Baltimore.

That attack lasted 25 hours, Monica tells us, and in the early morning light there was so much smoke that Key, staring through a spyglass, could not see if the American flag still few above the beseiged fort. When the smoke cleared, the flag was there.  The rest is not just history, but a song.  And not just any song:  an anthem.

By telling this story with clarity and tenderness, Monica gives young readers a sacred history—and restores lost details to the adults who read along.  This was the perfect book for me to sit with today as I reflected on all I love and how blessed I am.


Serena said...

Thanks for this great Valentine

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