Wendell Minor has been busy this year, having illustrated picture books documenting 2 American heroes, which were published only a few months apart. INTO THE WOODS and RACHEL tell the stories of patriots, John James Audubon and Rachel Carson, respectively, who struggled to preserve the beauty and health of their native land. Now Mr. Minor has produced another picture book of equal radiance, focusing on the country that those heroes, and he, obviously love. The author is, like Audubon and Carson, another American legend, Katharine Lee Bates. Although her name is not familiar to many people, the poem she wrote certainly is. Here the entire song--not just the first few lines that most Americans have memorized--is emblazoned above Mr. Minor's spectacular paintings. Were she alive today, Ms. Bates would surely find this book comparable to the beauty of the country she wrote about in the first place. AMERICA depicts not only the "purple mountains" and "amber waves of grain" of the first stanza, but breathtaking landscapes from every corner of the nation. The monumental natural landmarks--enormous cliffs of the West, Niagara Falls, the Grand Tetons--are shown as well as quieter, but equally striking, scenes of farmers harvesting wheat in Iowa and steamboats pushing across the mist-shrouded Mississippi River. Even the light beams in Manhattan where the World Trade Center once stood are captured forever in an elegant painting. AMERICA allows readers to visit the most far-flung and spectacular areas of the nation in only 5 minutes, so realistic and compelling are the illustrations. And seeing Bates's poem in its entirety will rekindle readers' feelings for our musical heritage, no matter how many patriotic tunes they've heard since 9/11. This book is a dignified and vibrant testimony to the greatness of this nation, worthy of being shared with all kinds of patriots, young and old, for years and years.