Starched-white shapes of icons such as the Statue of Liberty and a Mississippi riverboat unfold in this patriotic pop-up. Paper engineer Sabuda (The Christmas Alphabet) goes line-by-line through the first stanza of the celebratory "America the Beautiful," pairing "O beautiful for spacious skies" with a red-on-white Golden Gate Bridge and boats cutting silver-foil ribbons through the water. Line two, "For amber waves of grain," exalts "The Great Plains"; here, a tractor foregrounds symmetrical rows of crops, a rooster crows on a barn roof and a string mechanism allows readers to turn a windmill's blades. Inside the closing spread ("From sea to shining sea!"), which pictures a minimalist Manhattan with foil-windowed skyscrapers, a small book-within-a-book provides mini-pop-ups (the Twin Towers, Liberty Bell and an American eagle) and lyrics to the lesser-known verses by "Katharine Lee Bates July 4, 1895." Skeptics may be taken aback that the "amber" grain and "purple mountain majesties" of Mount Rushmore spring up icy white.
The author also takes liberties with mapping, for instance placing the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument perpendicular to the U.S. Capitol on the National Mall. The dove-white imagery, pure as snow, which worked so effectively in Sabuda's Christmas books, here suggests the rich connotations of the simple verses, but also sanitizes the complex topics. Sabuda's paper engineering impresses as usual, but the presentation seems more decorative than awe-inspiring.