A solid addition to the canon.

WRITE ON, MERCY!

Move over, Thomas Paine! Revolutionary War writer and activist finds fame! First biography for young readers published!

Mercy Otis of colonial Massachusetts did not attend college but studied at home with her father’s encouragement. After her marriage to James Warren, she began writing and joined the political discussions about breaking ties with Great Britain that were held in her home. As open rebellion grew closer, she wrote political plays, albeit unsigned. When fighting broke out, Warren began an ambitious project—a history of the American Revolution, concentrating on “radical thoughts and bold actions.” It was published in 1805 under her name. Woelfle’s lively and informative style keeps the narrative flowing. Wallner’s gouache paintings are colorful and spirited, with a good mix of full-page scenes and close-ups of prominent figures. In a nice touch, Mercy Otis Warren's Copley portrait hanging in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is reproduced. Decorative inserts excerpt her writings and those of her father and her husband. It is usually Abigail Adams who gets the nod whenever women of colonial and revolutionary-era America are mentioned, so this title certainly fills a niche.

A solid addition to the canon. (author’s note, timeline, bibliography, websites) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59078-822-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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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

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A crisp historical vignette.

BEN'S REVOLUTION

BENJAMIN RUSSELL AND THE BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL

A boy experiences the Boston Tea Party, the response to the Intolerable Acts, and the battle at Breed’s Hill in Charlestown.

Philbrick has taken his Bunker Hill (2013), pulled from its 400 pages the pivotal moments, added a 12-year-old white boy—Benjamin Russell—as the pivot, and crafted a tale of what might have happened to him during those days of unrest in Boston from 1773 to 1775 (Russell was a real person). Philbrick explains, in plainspoken but gradually accelerating language, the tea tax, the Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, and the quartering of troops in Boston as well as the institution of a military government. Into this ferment, he introduces Benjamin Russell, where he went to school, his part-time apprenticeship at Isaiah Thomas’ newspaper, sledding down Beacon Hill, and the British officer who cleaned the cinders from the snow so the boys could sled farther and farther. It is these humanizing touches that make war its own intolerable act. Readers see Benjamin, courtesy of Minor’s misty gouache-and-watercolor tableaux, as he becomes stranded outside Boston Neck and becomes a clerk for the patriots. Significant characters are introduced, as is the geography of pre-landfilled Boston, to gain a good sense of why certain actions took place where they did. The final encounter at Breed’s Hill demonstrates how a battle can be won by retreating.

A crisp historical vignette. (maps, author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Historical fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16674-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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