FOLLOW ME DOWN TO NICODEMUS TOWN

BASED ON THE HISTORY OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN PIONEER SETTLEMENT

Visually charming, enjoyable, and educational

A little girl and her family join the Kansas land rush.

The cover welcomes readers into this story about Dede Patton and her family. Both of Dede’s parents work extra jobs, and Dede shines shoes at the train station, all in hopes of paying off their sharecropping debt so they can move west. But no matter how much they work, they don’t make enough (context on the sharecropping economy is provided in a note). An act of providence changes their fortunes when honest Dede returns a customer’s wallet and receives a monetary reward. Though not remarked upon, the fact that without this windfall the Pattons might never have realized their dream is chilling. The lovely, warm watercolor illustrations highlight the beauty of the prairie, particularly the wide expanse of grass and sky. In Kansas, the Pattons stake their land claim, but winter is harsh. Thankfully, when food and fuel run low, Ni-u-kon-ska (Osage) neighbors lend aid. Eventually more people arrive, African-American like the Pattons; their settlement becomes a town, and the Pattons’ dream of holding the deed for their land is realized. The closing note acknowledges the displacement of the Ni-u-kon-ska people—another opportunity for exploration. That the many all-black settlements on the prairie have been whitewashed out of U.S. history makes this book an important one.

Visually charming, enjoyable, and educational . (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-2535-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

THE ADVENTURES OF HENRY WHISKERS

From the Adventures of Henry Whiskers series , Vol. 1

Innocuous adventuring on the smallest of scales.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle (1965) upgrades to The Mice and the Rolls-Royce.

In Windsor Castle there sits a “dollhouse like no other,” replete with working plumbing, electricity, and even a full library of real, tiny books. Called Queen Mary’s Dollhouse, it also plays host to the Whiskers family, a clan of mice that has maintained the house for generations. Henry Whiskers and his cousin Jeremy get up to the usual high jinks young mice get up to, but when Henry’s little sister Isabel goes missing at the same time that the humans decide to clean the house up, the usually bookish big brother goes on the adventure of his life. Now Henry is driving cars, avoiding cats, escaping rats, and all before the upcoming mouse Masquerade. Like an extended version of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Two Bad Mice (1904), Priebe keeps this short chapter book constantly moving, with Duncan’s peppy art a cute capper. Oddly, the dollhouse itself plays only the smallest of roles in this story, and no factual information on the real Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House is included at the tale’s end (an opportunity lost).

Innocuous adventuring on the smallest of scales. (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6575-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

CAVE PAINTINGS

Celebrated collaborators deliver another thoughtful delight, revealing how “making marks” links us across time and space.

A trip to grandmother’s launches light-years beyond the routine sort, as a human child travels from deep space to Earth.

The light-skinned, redheaded narrator journeys alone as flight attendants supply snacks to diverse, interspecies passengers. The kid muses, “Sometimes they ask me, ‘Why are you always going to the farthest planet?’ ”The response comes after the traveler hurtles through the solar system, lands, and levitates up to the platform where a welcoming grandmother waits: “Because it’s worth it / to cross one universe / to explore another.” Indeed, child and grandmother enter an egg-shaped, clear-domed orb and fly over a teeming savanna and a towering waterfall before disembarking, donning headlamps, and entering a cave. Inside, the pair marvel at a human handprint and ancient paintings of animals including horses, bison, and horned rhinoceroses. Yockteng’s skilled, vigorously shaded pictures suggest references to images found in Lascaux and Chauvet Cave in France. As the holiday winds down, grandmother gives the protagonist some colored pencils that had belonged to grandfather generations back. (She appears to chuckle over a nude portrait of her younger self.) The pencils “were good for making marks on paper. She gave me that too.” The child draws during the return trip, documenting the visit and sights along the journey home. “Because what I could see was infinity.” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 85% of actual size.)

Celebrated collaborators deliver another thoughtful delight, revealing how “making marks” links us across time and space. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77306-172-6

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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