A good introduction to the growing knowledge of the vital role slaves played in building Washington, D.C.

PHILIP REID SAVES THE STATUE OF FREEDOM

A slave in Washington, D.C., has the expertise to make possible the casting in bronze of the statue atop the Capitol Building.

As a child, Reid learned to work with clay and wood from an older slave on a plantation in South Carolina. Sold to Clark Mills, a sculptor, Reid mastered the skills required to create bronze statues. When Mills was commissioned to cast the plaster mold of the Statue of Freedom in 1859, he took Reid with him. To everyone’s consternation, the plaster model was in one piece, and the Italian craftsman responsible for this wanted more money to disassemble it into its constituent parts. It was Reid who carefully determined where the seams were so that the mold could be separated and moved to a foundry to be cast. During the Civil War, the statue was placed on the Capitol dome, and slaves in the District of Columbia were granted emancipation. Paperwork from Reid’s owner requesting promised payment for his manumitted slaves is reproduced on the endpapers. Lapham and Walton invent dialogue in their narration, but they make Reid’s work exciting and provide a good picture of what little is known of him. Christie’s paintings are characteristically powerful, more impressionistic than realistic. Sources and further reading would have been a plus.

A good introduction to the growing knowledge of the vital role slaves played in building Washington, D.C. (epilogue, authors’ note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58536-819-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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Successful neither as biography nor sermon.

I AM ABRAHAM LINCOLN

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Our 16th president is presented as an activist for human and civil rights.

Lincoln resembles a doll with an oversized head as he strides through a first-person narrative that stretches the limits of credulity and usefulness. From childhood, Abe, bearded and sporting a stovepipe hat, loves to read, write and look out for animals. He stands up to bullies, noting that “the hardest fights don’t reveal a winner—but they do reveal character.” He sees slaves, and the sight haunts him. When the Civil War begins, he calls it a struggle to end slavery. Not accurate. The text further calls the Gettysburg ceremonies a “big event” designed to “reenergize” Union supporters and states that the Emancipation Proclamation “freed all those people.” Not accurate. The account concludes with a homily to “speak louder then you’ve ever spoken before,” as Lincoln holds the Proclamation in his hands. Eliopoulos’ comic-style digital art uses speech bubbles for conversational asides. A double-page spread depicts Lincoln, Confederate soldiers, Union soldiers, white folk and African-American folk walking arm in arm: an anachronistic reference to civil rights–era protest marches? An unsourced quotation from Lincoln may not actually be Lincoln’s words.

Successful neither as biography nor sermon. (photographs, archival illustration) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4083-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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Interesting and well meaning—but doesn’t make it to the top of the flagpole.

LONG MAY SHE WAVE

THE TRUE STORY OF CAROLINE PICKERSGILL AND HER STAR-SPANGLED CREATION

A teenage girl spangles the U.S. flag with stars—and spawns our national anthem.

It’s 1813; America has been fighting the British for a year. Thirteen-year-old Caroline Pickersgill is from an illustrious, white, flag-making family in Baltimore. When the U.S. Army commissions them to fashion a flag to fly over nearby Fort McHenry, Caroline and other skilled seamstresses—including Grace Wisher, a young African-American indentured servant—toil for weeks. The gigantic banner proudly waves for a year until the enemy sails toward the fort. The ensuing battle tests the flag’s, its creators’, and, of course, the new nation’s mettle. As history tells, America emerged victorious, and the flag survived, inspiring Francis Scott Key to write an awestruck poem, the first stanza of which became our national anthem (and all of which is reproduced in the backmatter). The simple, straightforward narrative incorporates snippets of the song in the book’s second half, but the stirring words fare better as lyrics than in story form. The informative author’s note is actually more inspiring than the text. Most illustrations evoke more excitement: bold reds and blues are eye-popping, and battle scenes are rousing and dramatic. However, the flat, caricatured portraits of human figures, rendered with light-tan skin tones save for Grace’s brown skin, feel at odds with the historical context.

Interesting and well meaning—but doesn’t make it to the top of the flagpole. (sources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6096-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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