INDEPENDENT DAMES

WHAT YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT THE WOMEN AND GIRLS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

A jam-packed, busy presentation overwhelms this otherwise fresh exploration of women’s contributions to the War of Independence. Anderson sure has done her homework, digging out names and particulars of a dizzying number of strong women from the expected—Phillis Wheatley, Abigail Adams—to the lesser known—Sally St. Clair, Tyonajanegen—working to ensure occupational and ethnic diversity throughout. Each double-page spread features a text box that carries the main thematic narrative forward, thumbnails of relevant women in oval insets, a timeline in an impossibly teeny-tiny font and Faulkner’s loose, energetic cartoons, which are punctuated by often jarringly modern speech-bubbles. Such statements as “I’ll have to see some I.D., mon général,” and “Hey Paul, her horse looks faster than yours” clearly aim for collegiality but will likely strike young readers as patronizing. Lengthy backmatter presents still more worthwhile and enthusiastic information, but in so dense and small a font that it forbids rather than invites examination. Trimmed down, this would have been a marvelous alternative to the Dead White Men version of history—but not as is. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: June 3, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-689-85808-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Absolutely wonderful in every way.

THE SECRET SUBWAY

A long-forgotten chapter in New York City history is brilliantly illuminated.

In mid-19th-century New York, horses and horse-drawn vehicles were the only means of transportation, and the din created by wheels as they rumbled on the cobblestones was deafening. The congestion at intersections threatened the lives of drivers and pedestrians alike. Many solutions were bandied about, but nothing was ever done. Enter Alfred Ely Beach, an admirer of “newfangled notions.” Working in secret, he created an underground train powered by an enormous fan in a pneumatic tube. He built a tunnel lined with brick and concrete and a sumptuously decorated waiting room for passenger comfort. It brought a curious public rushing to use it and became a great though short-lived success, ending when the corrupt politician Boss Tweed used his influence to kill the whole project. Here is science, history, suspense, secrecy, and skulduggery in action. Corey’s narrative is brisk, chatty, and highly descriptive, vividly presenting all the salient facts and making the events accessible and fascinating to modern readers. The incredibly inventive multimedia illustrations match the text perfectly and add detail, dimension, and pizazz. Located on the inside of the book jacket is a step-by-step guide to the creative process behind these remarkable illustrations.

Absolutely wonderful in every way. (author’s note, bibliography, Web resources) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-375-87071-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more