Thursday, May 15, 2014

Book Review: Discover America: From Sea to Shining Sea

Discover America: From Sea to Shining Sea, by Katharine Lee Bates, Illustrations by Julie Olson
2014, 36p, Children's Picture Book
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Received copy from publisher for an honest review

Follow the patriotic journey of a little red balloon as it makes its way from the West Coast to the East Coast of the United States.

Accompanied by the words of one of America's most beloved anthems America the Beautiful, From Sea to Shining Sea shows the diversity and beauty of our great country through the eyes of our nation's children. To add an interactive experience, kids all across the United States will be able to go online to send their own balloons on their own journey.

I love these kind of books! The words are the first verse of America the Beautiful, written by Katharine Lee Bates and the pictures show different places throughout the United States, from the beach, to the Kansas corn fields, to Amish country, ending at The Statue of Liberty. I read through this a couple of times with my children. We sang the words the first time, and then we looked at and discussed the illustrations, using the map in the back which shows the state and location of each picture. This was their favorite illustration:

You can't get much more patriotic than that!! There are lots of places that can be included in a book like this and I like the places Julie Olson used in her book.

I also went to the website for this book,, and got some ideas for other activities we can do. She has videos, quizzes and lesson plans. You can also send a virtual balloon to friends or family, who can also send it on and you can track its progress. There's a lot of great information so be sure to visit!

This is a book I am excited to add to my collection and it will be looked at over and over and cherished for many years to come!

Here's a video that shows her painting a scene from her book. As someone who finds drawing anything beyond stick figures challenging, this was fascinating to me:

About the Authors

Lyrics: Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929) taught English at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Her most famous poem, “America the Beautiful,” was inspired by the view from Pike’s Peak, near Colorado Springs, Colorado. Published in 1893, it became the lyrics to the well-known anthem shortly thereafter.

Illustrator: Julie Olson was born in the East, grew up in the Midwest, and now lives in the West. She developed a deep love for all parts of America as she lived in and traveled through various places. Since graduating with a BFA degree in illustration from Brigham Young University, she strives through her work to uplift and encourage others to be better.

You can learn more about Julie and her other creations by visiting


Paij Slater said...

That video was AWESOME! I love the paintings in this book, they are all so beautiful. Watching her do one is amazing. Thanks for sharing. I cannot draw anything even my stick figures are a bit interesting :)

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