Riveting reading, well-timed for the centennial of the Titanic’s sinking.


Based on a true story of shipwreck and rescue, Carbone’s tale is leavened with narration by Anthony, a venturesome lad whose penchant for playing pirates helps him through the harrowing event.

It’s 1882, and the steamship Pliny, bound for New York City from Brazil, founders in a storm off New Jersey. Anthony and his friend Pedro run onto the deck to gauge whether New York is near. Instead, they face life-threatening conditions, as towering waves splinter lifeboats and the engines die. In the gray dawn, the boys see land, men and—a cannon. Before there’s much time to ponder pirates, a rescue line is launched from shore to ship, followed by the breeches buoy: “It comes swinging toward us hanging from the rope: a life preserver with a pair of short pants attached.” One by one, passengers are hauled along the line to safety ashore at Deal Beach. Carbone’s text conveys a compelling “you are there” tone as Anthony prepares to ride the breeches buoy: “I swing out into open space. Below me, waves crash and twist like angry snakes. Will the ropes hold?” Carpenter’s pictures beautifully capture both historical detail and the event’s inherent drama. A seagoing palette of blue, gray, brown and ochre, crosshatched in black, thoroughly suits the period.

Riveting reading, well-timed for the centennial of the Titanic’s sinking. (afterword) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-06312-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.


A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Both informative and emotionally gratifying.


Adversity brings out the best in people.

A young boy, perhaps the author/illustrator’s younger self, witnesses this principle firsthand—and is himself a testament to it—when a hurricane wreaks havoc. Readers meet the young narrator, who describes his “favorite place in the world” as the neighborhood dock, overlooking the nearby river, where he swims and fishes. Returning home one day, he sees his dad reinforcing their house’s windows because a hurricane’s approaching. The boy worries: What will happen to his dock? The storm’s destructive fury is dramatically portrayed both textually and visually, allowing readers to share his concern. The boy’s fears are confirmed next morning when he observes the storm’s damage to his street: Indeed, the dock has been destroyed. Unfortunately, neighbors can’t help immediately, as they’re occupied with their own home repairs; nevertheless, the boy lends them a helping hand. Afterward, with pluck, ingenuity, and every resource available, the kid attempts dock repair himself…until all his neighbors, having completed their own work and been impressed by the boy’s initiative, pitch in with new supplies and sturdily fix up “our dock.” This is exactly told, down-to-earth story about folks coming together in troubled times will evoke readers’ empathy. The excellent, realistic illustrations, rendered in pencil and watercolors, enhance the already accessible, satisfying reading experience. The narrator and dad present White; neighbors are somewhat diverse. Front endpapers provide facts about how hurricanes develop. Rear endpapers include a replica of a charming note written by 6-year-old Rocco to his parents about a fishing trip and a labeled diagram featuring the parts of a dock. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Both informative and emotionally gratifying. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5493-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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