The premise is simple. A young boy travels cross-country with his beloved grandfather to Washington DC, where they attend the Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom. His simple-yet-poignant understanding of why they are doing this, and the monumental impressions he receives along the way, are expressed in poetic verse throughout the book.
To be clear, “poetic” is not an exaggeration. Though this is a children’s book (with reasonably large, clear font), a tremendous amount of care has gone into the storytelling medium. It begins with an alternating rhyming scheme, but varies as the tale progresses—offering a range between two and four-line stanzas, and the occasional six-line couplet. It even ends with a terza rima rhyme that clinches the story with tender pathos. The cadence is pleasing and rhythmic, creating an engaging experience that both children and parents will find memorable.
“Motors growling, roaring near
Crowds that cry and wave and cheer,
Raising flags of white and black
For those who never made it back.”
Each page is a gorgeous work of art unto itself: Pastels, sepias, and charcoal in an evocatively realistic style, with a stunning depiction of light the likes of which would have made Thomas Kinkade proud. (Nearly every 2-page spread seems to be cast at sunset, save for the final page, which offers a starscape. This ultimately feels both intentional and deeply befitting the subject matter.)
HIGHLY recommended for all patriotic ages--those who’ve served, those with military family or friends, and anyone who either wants to pay their respects and/or teach their children to honor the sacrifices we hope they will never have to personally understand.
Note: To date, this is the first children’s book that has ever made me cry.
It has my emphatic endorsement.
“Rising Smoke and glowing ember.
Ride for freedom. Ride.