One part fiction, one part history lesson, this likable story is an amusing introduction to one slice of early American life.

INDEPENDENCE CAKE

A REVOLUTIONARY CONFECTION INSPIRED BY AMELIA SIMMONS, WHOSE TRUE HISTORY IS UNFORTUNATELY UNKNOWN

The true history of Amelia Simmons, the author of America’s first cookbook, has been lost. Enter this whimsical, fictionalized account of what could’ve been, delectable cakes included!

After Amelia’s parents die in the first two sentences, the mob-capped white girl is taken in by Mrs. Bean to help with chores and watch her six rambunctious sons, all also white. Amelia cleans clothes, scrubs pots, picks apples, and that’s only half of it! What she doesn’t already know how to do, she learns. Mrs. Bean is ever so grateful. “You’ve brightened our lives like a star on the flag.” In addition to her chores, Amelia wants “to learn good, plain American cookery and [to] share recipes with my fellow citizens.” Soon, Amelia is inventing delicious new recipes using American ingredients and becomes the talk of the town, eventually baking the titular (enormous!) cake in honor of the newly elected president, George Washington. The tale presents a distinctly rosy vision of life as an orphaned “bound girl” in late-18th-century America. Too good to be true? Perhaps. But Hopkinson’s lively text—rife with allegorical Americana—and Potter’s charming watercolor-and-ink illustrations team up to tell an entertaining story. Readers will delight in spotting every single rosy-cheeked Bean boy on the page, all up to no good!

One part fiction, one part history lesson, this likable story is an amusing introduction to one slice of early American life. (author’s note, recipe) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-39017-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance.

MUMBET'S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

With the words of Massachusetts colonial rebels ringing in her ears, a slave determines to win her freedom.

In 1780, Mumbet heard the words of the new Massachusetts constitution, including its declaration of freedom and equality. With the help of a young lawyer, she went to court and the following year, won her freedom, becoming Elizabeth Freeman. Slavery was declared illegal and subsequently outlawed in the state. Woelfle writes with fervor as she describes Mumbet’s life in the household of John Ashley, a rich landowner and businessman who hosted protest meetings against British taxation. His wife was abrasive and abusive, striking out with a coal shovel at a young girl, possibly Mumbet’s daughter. Mumbet deflected the blow and regarded the wound as “her badge of bravery.” Ironically, the lawyer who took her case, Theodore Sedgwick, had attended John Ashley’s meetings. Delinois’ full-bleed paintings are heroic in scale, richly textured and vibrant. Typography becomes part of the page design as the font increases when the text mentions freedom. Another slave in the Ashley household was named in the court case, but Woelfle, keeping her young audience in mind, keeps it simple, wisely focusing on Mumbet.

A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance. (author’s note, selected bibliography, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6589-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

SLUG IN LOVE

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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