A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Mitchell Sharmat (Nate the Great series) and Barbara Reid (Fox Walked Alone).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Evelyn Sibley Lampman (1907-1980), The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek.
- Happy birthday to the original Yankee Stadium, first opened in The Bronx, New York City, in 1923. The facility, known as â€śThe House that Ruth Builtâ€ť was demolished last year. Read Ballpark: The Story of Americaâ€™s Baseball Fields by Lynn Curlee.
- In 1924 the first crossword puzzle book is published. Read The Puzzling World of Winston Breen and The Potato Chip Puzzles, both by Eric Berlin.
I must admit that today is truly one of my favorite holidays, if not my absolute favorite, of the year. Although I try to avoid being â€śBoston centricâ€ť in the Almanac, I have lived in or near the city for more than forty years. Writers often get told to write about what they knowâ€”and today the holiday I know and love is Patriotsâ€™ Day. For those more attuned to sports than history, you will probably recognize this local holiday as the running of the Boston Marathon. But for those who delight in the details of Americaâ€™s hard-won independence as a nation, this day remains sacred: the beginning of the American Revolution. In years past I have awoken long before dawn to stand on the Lexington Green and watch British and American reenactors face each other in a reconstruction of the Battle of Lexington. Usually an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast rounds out this engaging event.
Since April is also Poetry Month, the two events can be celebrated with one spectacular book, Paul Revereâ€™s Ride: The Landlordâ€™s Tale by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, illustrated by Charles Santore. Certainly many of my older readers memorized Longfellow as part of their elementary school experience. Poetry has changed since this nineteenth-century classic, but to my ears these Longfellow lines bring back memories of devoted teachers: â€śListen, my children, and you shall hear/Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,/On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;/Hardly a man is now alive/Who remembers that famous day and year.â€ť Paul Revere waits for his signal in the old North Church, and then heads out to alert the citizens in the towns like Medford, Lexington, and Concord. He travels â€śTo every Middlesex [Massachusetts County] village and farmâ€ť to deliver â€śthe midnight message of Paul Revere.â€ť
Many artists have illustrated Longfellowâ€™s words, but in 2003 Philadelphia artist Charles Santore created a highly realistic version that shows the uniforms, faces, and landscapes in exact detail. If any American artist can be said to be the descendant of Howard Pyle, Santore would be chosen for this accolade. Certainly one of the finest realistic draftsman working in childrenâ€™s books today, he knows how to render every nuance of a horse and rider in motion. Readers view the landscape in detail as Revere might have, and they move along in time with Longfellowâ€™s stirring beat.
I know historians remind us that the British did capture Revere, and he did not ride alone. Longfellow re-created the spirit of the Revolution but missed some of its exact history. Fortunately, Santore has taken greater care with accuracy in his rendition of events.
So, if you arenâ€™t able to join us for pancakes and celebrate Patriotsâ€™ Day in Massachusetts this year, you can at least feel you have been here and helped set the Revolution in motion if you pick up Paul Revereâ€™s Ride.
Originally posted April 18, 2011. Updated for .