LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: For Spacious Skies by Nancy Churnin (Picture Book Biography)

Nancy Churnin 
illustrated by Olga Baumert

Genre:  Picture Book Biography / Women’s Suffrage / Woman Poet
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Date of Publication: April 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 32


As a little girl growing up during the Civil War, Katharine Lee Bates grew up to become a poet, professor, and social activist.

She not only wrote “America the Beautiful” but gave this anthem to America as a gift. A member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and a suffragist who stood up for a woman’s right to vote and lived to cast her ballot in presidential elections, Katharine believed in the power of words to make a difference.

In “America the Beautiful,” her vision of the nation as a great family, united from sea to shining sea, continues to uplift and inspire us all.
PRAISE for For Spacious Skies: 
“Churnin tells that story in a spare and lively text beautifully complemented by double-page spreads highlighting Baumert’s gorgeous panoramic illustrations . . . A handsome volume befitting its subject.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The story ends on a high note in 1920, with Bates casting her ballot after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted voting rights to women . . . The richly colored, nicely composed artwork will help children visualize the period setting while enjoying the portrayals of Bates and beautiful landscapes. A picture-book biography of a notable American.”—Booklist

“Nancy Churnin has written a delightful book that helps children understand the many dimensions of my great-aunt Katharine Lee Bates. This book does an excellent job conveying her ardent passion for equal rights and for her country. She was a poet, a professor, and a world traveler, but she was first and foremost a citizen who loved America, in all its beauty and diversity.”—Katharine Lee Holland

Amazon  ┃  Barnes & Noble   Interabang Books  ┃  Bookshop.org  

As Americans, we are all extremely familiar with the song, “America the Beautiful,” learning it from a very young age to sing for our families at school musical events. We listen to it with pride all the time on Independence Day. However, many of us probably aren’t so familiar with the woman behind one of the defining songs of our country. This gorgeously illustrated book will enlighten readers of all ages about Katharine Lee Bates and her story towards crafting the words of our nation’s beloved song.  
From the Civil War and Reconstruction to economic strife and Women’s Suffrage, Katharine Lee Bates lived during a time of extensive and overwhelming transition for the United States. As a woman, her roles in life were incredibly limiting, yet she consistently sought out ways to provide support to her fellow citizens. Having traveled extensively across the country, she began to notice the spectacular beauty of the landscapes that surrounded her. It was during a moment in Kansas on July 4, 1893 that she pondered whether “the people who sail powerful waves of water and the people who tend mighty waves of grain” could in fact be more “alike than we realize?” It’s quite sad to think that even over 125 years later, that question is still being asked today, making this story an incredibly heartfelt and relevant reminder of how important it means to remain united rather than divided.

The realistic illustrations are endearing, remarkably expressive, and exude a timeless quality, providing the perfect canvas on which to share such inspirational messages within the text. The simplicity of the narrative pairs wonderfully with the vibrancy of the illustrations to capture the true meaning of Bates’ heartwarming story. This is a book that you can share with a child today and happily know that generation after generation, it will be enjoyed. The picture book format will enchant older readers in a nostalgic style, while simultaneously speaking to younger readers in a comfortable manner and within a small space that will hold their attention. As a celebration of the American spirit, I can also see this making an excellent selection for a coffee table book or other conversation piece to discuss what drives our own unique abilities to make the world a better place and connect with those around us. 

A captivating addition to any library that renders a salute to a notable woman and the powerful words she penned while also creatively engaging all readers in an inspiring history lesson.
Head over to Texas Book Lover to hear more fabulous renditions of this amazing song!

Nancy Churnin is the award-winning author of eight picture book biographies with a ninth due in 2021. 

Beautiful Shades of Brown, The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring is A Mighty Girl pick that will be featured at the 2020 Ruby Bridges Reading Festival at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee in May. The William Hoy Story, a Texas 2X2 pick, has been on multiple state reading lists. Manjhi Moves a Mountain is the winner of the 2018 South Asia Book Award and a Junior Library Guild selection. Martin & Anne, the Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank is on the 2020 Notable Book for a Global Society list from the International Literacy Association. Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing is a 2019 Sydney Taylor and National Council for the Social Studies Notable. 

Nancy graduated cum laude from Harvard, has a master’s from Columbia, and lives in Plano, Texas, with her husband, Dallas Morning News arts writer Michael Granberry, their dog named Dog, and two cantankerous cats.

Website ║  Blog ║ Facebook  ║ Twitter ║ Instagram

ONE WINNER receives signed copies of both For Spacious Skies and Beautiful Shades of Brown
TWO WINNERS each receive a signed copy of For Spacious Skies
April 16-26, 2020
(US only for signed copies; international winners via Book Depository)

a Rafflecopter giveaway  Best of luck!

Many thanks again to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and author extras!


Notable Quotable
Book Trailer
Sneak Peek
Author Interview
Author Interview
Guest Post
Deleted Scene
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1 thought on “LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: For Spacious Skies by Nancy Churnin (Picture Book Biography)”

  1. OUTSTANDING review and wow! That bookstagram you made is gorgeous. Love that you included Ray Charles's rendition of ATB — that's the first version the author included in her playlist over on Texas Book Lover's stop on the tour! Thanks for the post!


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