Both revelatory and entertaining, though not without its gaps.


In anticipation of Canada’s 2017 sesquicentennial, a breezy year-by-year survey of its history.

MacLeod takes a consciously multicultural approach, highlighting both highlights and lowlights. The first game of indoor hockey (1875) is celebrated, as is the discovery of gold in the Yukon (1896) and the birth of the Dionne Quints (1934). Likewise, Treaty No. 7, the 1877 appropriation of much of what is now Alberta, and discrimination against the Chinese, 8,000 of whom arrived in 1882 to help build the railways, are duly noted. When Canada’s history intersects with world history, the book leaves North America, as in the span from 1914 to 1918, which also includes a profile of “In Flanders Fields” poet John McCrae, a sidebar on trench life, and the invention of the gas mask (by Newfoundlander Cluny Macpherson in 1915). Though the format is limiting, it’s a surprisingly effective tour that gets at both parochial Canadian culture (“1955: Fans riot over Maurice Richard”) and its too often overlooked impact on international affairs, as with Lester B. Pearson’s part in resolving the Suez crisis. Still, for all MacLeod’s admirable attention to Canada’s problematic history with First Nations peoples and minorities, it doesn’t get at the constant Anglophone-Francophone tension that has defined Canada from its inception, largely sidestepping it until the 1968 emergence of the Parti Québecois. Smith’s brushy vignettes include both people of color and white figures as appropriate.

Both revelatory and entertaining, though not without its gaps. (index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77138-397-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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A measured corrective to pervasive myths about what is often referred to as the “first Thanksgiving.”

Contextualizing them within a Native perspective, Newell (Passamaquoddy) touches on the all-too-familiar elements of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and its origins and the history of English colonization in the territory now known as New England. In addition to the voyage and landfall of the Mayflower, readers learn about the Doctrine of Discovery that arrogated the lands of non-Christian peoples to European settlers; earlier encounters between the Indigenous peoples of the region and Europeans; and the Great Dying of 1616-1619, which emptied the village of Patuxet by 1620. Short, two- to six-page chapters alternate between the story of the English settlers and exploring the complex political makeup of the region and the culture, agriculture, and technology of the Wampanoag—all before covering the evolution of the holiday. Refreshingly, the lens Newell offers is a Native one, describing how the Wampanoag and other Native peoples received the English rather than the other way around. Key words ranging from estuary to discover are printed in boldface in the narrative and defined in a closing glossary. Nelson (a member of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa) contributes soft line-and-color illustrations of the proceedings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Essential. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-72637-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.


In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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