HEART OF TEXAS

A LONE STAR ABC

Though the alphabetic conceit doesn’t work as well for an entire state as it did for their tours of Washington, D.C. (2003), and New York City (2005), Melmed and Lessac gamely present a high-spots roundup of history, prehistory, places and annual events to give students and prospective visitors at least a taste of Texas. From “Alamo” to “Zilker Park,” “Fiestas Patrias” to the “Juneteenth Festival,” the author provides at each stop an introductory bit of doggerel and a handful of random facts—the latter scattered over broad landscapes or urban scenes painted in Lessac’s characteristic primitive style. Totally unsystematic, seldom better than superficial and sometimes trivial or jejune (A is for Alamo: “Santa Anna was a good soldier but a cruel, hated commander”), this joins the three (at least) other Texas ABCs that are currently available in having little to offer beyond regional interest. A very simple keyed map is included. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-06-114283-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Collins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

LOOK TO THE STARS

There’s no doubt about Aldrin’s passion for his subject nor his very specialized firsthand knowledge. And as always Minor’s paintings are attractive and detailed. Still this follow-up to Reaching for the Moon (2005) feels like an unnecessary addendum rather than a useful and intriguing supplement. The author offers an overview of space exploration, beginning with the contributions of Copernicus, Galileo and Newton and segueing into the work of the Wright brothers, Edwin Hubble and Robert Goddard. Brief descriptions of various NASA missions follow. His personal commentary offers a unique twist, but the brevity of the presentation—a double-page spread for each topic, the first few featuring multiple individuals—may leave readers feeling confused and overwhelmed rather than enlightened. A timeline helps to sort out the sequence of events, and its thumbnail illustrations serve as a sort of visual index, but even here there appears to be too much information squeezed into too small a space. More inspirational than informational, this may please aspiring space explorers but has the potential to leave many listeners in the dark. (Nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-24721-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more