This week, Prisca and Ray return to a familiar face with Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris, and discuss who the Statue of Liberty really is for so many Americans.
Prisca: From the first page this book is special. The voice is conversational (and humorous) which I find inviting. The first part of Her Right Foot discusses the history of the Statue of Liberty. Readers learn about the inception of the idea, her design and how she now stands in a harbor in New York. Then, the narrator discusses her feet, particularly the back of her right foot, which raises as if she is walking. I love the lines, “She is going somewhere! She is on the move!” The “most iconic symbol” of the U.S. who welcomes immigrants and visitors is “on the go!” In all I know about the Statue of Liberty, I’ve never heard that!
Ray: The voice in this text is personal, as if you are talking with the author. I originally knew a few facts about the initial construction of the statue in France, but Her Right Foot points out personal details. Other pictures I see concentrate on the upper third of the sculpture, but never the bottom section. In this book, the right foot is an important part of the whole statue narrative.
The art material and technique the artist uses to illustrate the book strike me. It is a simple “childlike or beginning artist” style of art with construction paper and India ink. I like this because my guess is that immigrants who came through Ellis Island probably couldn’t access a lot of materials to illustrate their stories. By the way, take a look at the case on the hardcover illustration.
Prisca: I never noticed the case. I like how it’s the tablet with the date of the Declaration of Independence that the Statue of Liberty holds. The end papers highlight part of the statue too, and how the color changed from the original to the green that it is now. The collage illustrations also seem fitting. They’re different materials, just like the United States is made up of immigrants from all around the world.
Another favorite line of mine is, “After all, the Statue of Liberty is an immigrant, too. And this is why she’s moving.” She, like us, needs to take action to ensure that the liberty and freedom from oppression we have continue. Wow!
Ray: I think of her as a “modern day Moses” guiding thousands of immigrants to the promise land. She is always on the move, not following, but lighting the way for those escaping oppression to liberty and freedom. Our Declaration of Independence is a sort of modern day Ten Commandments which helped the founding fathers as they wrote this great document.
A foot or sandal can either be thought of as an oppressive thing that holds people down, or it can be a foot that leads us to freedom. The French really knew what they were doing when they thought of a gift for the United States. What better gift than a work of art with so much symbolism behind it. It was the French who came to our aid in our fight for freedom, and they showed their love again for this new country by giving us this great gift. It is one of the greatest gifts from one country from another. Her Right Foot is an incredible book that all ages can learn from and treasure.
Title: Her Right Foot
Authors: Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Date Published: September 19 2017
This is the third installment of December 2017’s My Take/Your Take. To follow these continuing conversations, check back every Wednesday.