WEAVER’S DAUGHTER

This charming and involving historical novel brings readers to the Southwest Territory (now Tennessee) in 1792. The Bakers live with an inescapable fear: their ten-year old daughter, Lizzy, suffers from extremely serious asthma, which grows increasingly worse every fall. Lizzy barely survives her first autumn in the territory, saved only by an early frost, and she realizes that she might not survive the next year. No one knows the cause of Lizzy’s illness; the confident local doctor knows even less than the midwife. Meanwhile, on a trip to town, the family meets richly dressed Mrs. Beaumont, who has left Charleston, South Carolina, to join her husband while he speculates on land. The townspeople at first shun the Beaumonts, but Mrs. Beaumont becomes friendly with Lizzy’s family, coming to help when things look the worst. Finally she offers to take Lizzy back to Charleston, where she hopes the sea air will cure her. Lizzy must decide whether she will leave her home, knowing that she may never see her family again. As she tells her story, readers will come to know the period and the lifestyle as well as a little something about pioneer medicine. A sub-theme explores the idea why the Beaumonts hold slaves, a practice Lizzy disapproves of. An author’s note explains the possibilities of Lizzy’s survival and fills in other information about the period. A unique look at early American history. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-385-32769-2

Page Count: 166

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2000

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A BIG CHEESE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE

THE TRUE TALE OF A TREMENDOUS CHEDDAR

The author and illustrator bring to life an incident right out of history in this droll picture book enhanced by lively, color- washed pen-and-ink drawings. In Cheshire, Massachusetts, the home of mouth-watering cheese, the local residents grumble that President Jefferson is serving cheese from Norton, Connecticut, at the White House. “I have an idea,” says Elder John Leland to the assembled town folk, “If each of you will give one day’s milking from each of your many cows, we can put our curds together and create a whopping big cheddar.” Although some people scoff, the farmers bring load after load of milk—from 934 cows—to town and they set about making an enormous cheese. There are problems along the way, but eventually the giant cheese is dragged to a barn to age. At last it is perfect, and Mr. Leland and friends start the long haul to the East Room of White House. In a foreword, the author explains the truth and fiction in the tale, e.g., that the presidential residence wasn’t called the White House until about 1809. A humorous tale with a wide range of appeal and uses in and out of the classroom. (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7894-2573-4

Page Count: 30

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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THE GREAT DIVIDE

A MATHEMATICAL MARATHON

From Dodds (The Shape of Things, 1994, not reviewed, etc.), a rhyming, reckless text that makes a math process pleasurably solvable; Mitchell’s illustrative debut features a smashing cast of 1930s characters and a playfulness that will keep readers guessing. The premise is a Great Race: at the sound of the gun, 80 bicycle racers take off at top speed. The path diverges at the top of a cliff, and half the racers hurtle forever downward and right out of the race and the book. The remaining 40 racers determinedly continue in boats, their curls, spyglasses, eye patches, matronly upswept hairdos, and Clara Bow—lips intact. Whirlpools erupt to divide them again and wreck their ships, so it’s time to grab the next horse and ride on. The race continues, despite abrupt changes in modes of transportation and in the number of racers that dwindle by disastrous divisions, until a single winner glides over the finish line in a single-prop plane. The pace is so breathless and engaging that the book’s didactic origins all but disappear; few readers will notice that they’ve just finished a math problem, and most will want to go over all the action again. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7636-0442-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1999

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