Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by Jeff Gottesfeld, illustrated by Matt Tavares (released March 2)

Published by Candlewick

Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: Gottesfeld,  Jeff, Tavares, Matt: 9781536201482: Amazon.com: Books
Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: Gottesfeld,  Jeff, Tavares, Matt: 9781536201482: Amazon.com: Books

Summary:  “The Sentinel’s Creed” appears before the title page, showing the promise made by those who guard the tomb of the unknown soldier.  The narrative is in the first person voice of the unknown soldier, telling the history of the tomb beginning with the soldier’s ultimate sacrifice made in World War I.  In 1921, an unknown was chosen to represent all those who had died in the war and could not be identified.  Over the years, crowds came to see this monument, not always respectfully, so on July 2, 1937, a sentinel began guarding it.  Each guard takes 21 steps south, turns to face east for 21 seconds, turns to face north for 21 seconds, then takes another 21 steps.  The Tomb Guard is one of the most difficult positions to attain in the military, and each sentinel strives for perfection in carrying out his or her duty.  Includes an afterword with a bit more additional information about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  32 pages; grades 2-5.

Pros:  File this one away for Memorial Day.  It’s a solemn acknowledgement of all the many anonymous soldiers whose lives have tragically been lost to war.  As always, Matt Tavares has created exceptional illustrations to capture the sober topic and the seriousness of purpose of the sentinels.

Cons:  While I appreciated the afterword, I could have enjoyed a lot more backmatter, including photos and information about other monuments to the unknown soldier, both in the U.S. and abroad.

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