Elem. – Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Gottesfeld, Jeff. Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Candlewick Press, 2021. 978-1-5362-0148-2 32 p. $17.99. Grades 2-5. 

Sentinel guards keep vigil at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, protecting soldiers that made the ultimate sacrifice. Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a picture book written by Jeff Gottesfeld and illustrated by Matt Tavares, perfectly captures and honors the soldiers that honor the fallen. This moving and inspiring book teaches the reader the history and significance of the memorial and how the “Unknowns” have come to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Gottesfeld and Tavares explain through enriched vocabulary and powerful illustrations that the privilege and most challenging post to earn in the army is to stand, with absolute precision in every type of weather, at every moment of the day, since July 2, 1937, when the tomb became protected by American Soldiers. This moving and informative picture book honors the past, present, and future members of the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

THOUGHTS: This inspirational and beautiful picture book targets grades 2-5, ages 7-10, and would make an excellent mentor text for upper elementary or even middle grades. Not only is Twenty-One Steps a moving tribute but an informative text that would fit well with a WWII or Memorial Day unit. Emotional. Beautiful. Very well done.

Picture Book          Marie Mengel, Reading SD

Monumental History…a new series from Capstone


Monumental History (series). North Mankato: Capstone Press, 2015. 32 p. $26.65. Gr. 4 and up.

 Clark, Katie. The Lincoln Memorial: Myths, Legends, and Facts. 978-1-4914-0205-4.

Gunderson, Jessica. The Alamo: Myths, Legends, and Facts. 978-1-4914-0204-7.

Gunderson, Jessica. Mount Rushmore: Myths, Legends, and Facts. 978-1-4914-0203-0.

Murray, Robb. The Washington Monument: Myths, Legends, and Facts. 978-1-4914-0206-1.

Have you ever wondered if there are hidden messages in the architecture of the Lincoln Memorial, in the number of marble steps, or in the positioning of Lincoln’s hair? Are Lincoln’s hands placed to spell his initials, L.A., in sign language? This unique series addresses these rumors and legends in the context of a factual account of the inspiration, design, and construction of America’s most famous monuments. The Lincoln Memorial covers the long road from Lincoln’s assassination in 1865 to the memorial’s construction in 1914, and eventual dedication. Colorful pages, word definitions, and captioned photos all enhance the text’s readability. The last chapter touches on historic events that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial, such as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 speech on its steps. Critical thinking questions that are correlated to the Common Core and a link out to FactHound.com (using the book’s ISBN) complete the back matter. These books are great selections for students who enjoy history, trivia, and conspiracy theories!

975; American Memorials and Monuments            Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School

I can imagine these books inspiring students to one day visit these amazing monuments in person! They would also make a great introduction to researching presidents, debunking myths, citing evidence to support your claims, and taking a virtual field trip via sites such as http://www.nps.gov/featurecontent/ncr/linc/interactive/deploy/index.htm#/introduction.