Like the Vasa, this feels not quite seaworthy.



Who’s to blame when everything goes wrong?

In the early 1600s, King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden ordered the construction of a mighty warship to be the flagship of his navy. After two years’ construction, the mighty Vasa was ready to sail on the afternoon of Aug. 10, 1628. Less than a mile into its maiden voyage, the Vasa, along with her crew and their families, sank into Stockholm’s harbor. After the calamity, Sweden began an investigation into why the ship so easily capsized. The results were inconclusive, although Freedman implies that the king’s desire for a superfluity of cannons may have been the cause. Centuries later, in the mid-1950s, the Vasa was raised and restored. Now housed in the Stockholm Museum, the Vasa is a popular tourist attraction. Freedman provides a lot of information to his readers, but with its compression into the picture-book format, the pacing is rushed. The ending—relating a reclaimed cannon to Sweden’s history of peace—feels tangential at best. Hopefully, curious readers will seek out the additional information about the Vasa, shipwrecks, and restoration provided in the bibliography. Low’s digital illustrations are sumptuous and stunning, and they could pass for traditional paintings. It’s unfortunate that the text does not live up to the artwork.

Like the Vasa, this feels not quite seaworthy. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62779-866-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Lively, lucid, and timely.



Updated for a modern audience, the pre-eminent first lady’s views on what government is and does and why having a voice in it all matters.

The female and nonwhite firefighters, garbage collectors, public officials, and jurors in Lin’s bright, racially and gender-diverse illustrations—not to mention references in the narrative to calling 911, to “alderpersons,” and “selectpeople”—were likely not in the original 1932 edition. It’s easy, though, to hear Roosevelt, or at least her voice, in the pellucid descriptions of how local, state, and national governments are organized and the kinds of services they are charged with providing, both in the common-sense tone (“What seems good to you might not be good for the rest of the nation”) and in the inspirational message: “Marking your ballot is one of the most important—and exciting—things you’ll ever do.” Also at least partly new are descriptive notes about each amendment to the Constitution and each position in contemporary presidents’ cabinets, plus an eye-opening explanation of how electoral results can be manipulated through gerrymandering (using “blue” and “purple” voters as examples). Further comments by Roosevelt on citizenship and a brief biography focusing on her causes and character lead in to a short but choice set of more detailed sources of information about her life and work.

Lively, lucid, and timely. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-879-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A loving homage to the last baseball clown.



Max Patkin had a very long and rewarding career in baseball, but it wasn’t in the way he originally planned.

He was a good-enough pitcher to earn a place in the minor leagues. In 1942 he was sidelined by an injury and joined the Navy. After surgery he was good to go: to Hawaii to play baseball with other professional players as a way of entertaining the troops. He played with and against the likes of Pee Wee Reese and Joe DiMaggio. When DiMaggio hit a very long home run against him, Max followed him around the bases, mimicking his motions and garnering laughs and cheers from players and spectators. After the war he played in the minors again, but injuries ended his playing days. But his comic routines were remembered, and he was asked to perform at exhibition games all over the country. Everyone seemed to love his over-the-top slapstick and hilarious performances. Vernick displays warm affection for Patkin, describing his antics in amusing anecdotes that are followed by quoting his signature line, “True Story!” Bower’s colorful cartoons manage to capture the essence of Max’s goofy appearance and all-out efforts to elicit every bit of fun he could invent in the game he loved so much. It was a different time.

A loving homage to the last baseball clown. (author’s note, sources) (Picture book/ biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-81377-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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