VALLEY FORGE

Noting that the Continental Army’s winter at Valley Forge has become “a saga wrapped in myth and legend,” Ammon uses a mix of primary and secondary sources to separate fact from fiction. In topical passages, between accounts of Washington’s appointment as commander-in-chief and the army’s June 1778 march to the battle of Monmouth, the author chronicles Washington’s effective style of leadership, introduces Lafayette and Von Steuben, and describes how the ragged, ill-supplied troops survived disease, privation, and dreadful weather to emerge as a cohesive, trained fighting force. He includes a snatch of song, highlights the soldiers’ ethnic and cultural diversity, and even mentions camp followers. But the value of his account is not enhanced by the illustrations; instead of period images, modern views of the site, or even a map or two, Farnsworth’s full-page paintings offer generic, idealized, heroically posed figures, usually in static compositions, that provide more of a patriotic backdrop than a sense of time or place. This could supplement, but not replace, Richard Conrad Stein’s Valley Forge (1985), or Libby Hughes’s more detailed Valley Forge (1998). (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8234-1746-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2004

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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

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A deeply felt but not overwrought telling of a story that will be new to most young readers.

SEVEN AND A HALF TONS OF STEEL

A reverent account of the creation of a seagoing 9/11 memorial fashioned by incorporating part of one of the fallen towers into the hull of a Navy ship.

Following a wordless, powerful sequence in which a seemingly ordinary jet flies peacefully through a cloudless sky and then directly into a tower, Nolan opens by noting that there is “something different, something special” about the seemingly ordinary USS New York. In the tragedy’s aftermath, she explains, a steel beam was pulled from the wreckage and sent to a foundry in Louisiana. There, workers melted it down, recast and shaped it, and sent it to New Orleans, where, notwithstanding the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, it was incorporated into the bow of a new ship of war. Gonzalez echoes the author’s somber, serious tone with dark scenes of ground zero, workers with shadowed faces, and views of the ship from low angles to accentuate its monumental bulk. Though Nolan goes light on names and dates, she adds a significant bit of background to the overall story of 9/11 and its enduring effects. Backmatter includes a cutaway diagram and some additional facts.

A deeply felt but not overwrought telling of a story that will be new to most young readers. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-56145-912-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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