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GALLOPING GERTIE

THE TRUE STORY OF THE TACOMA NARROWS BRIDGE COLLAPSE

Gripping historical engineering drama.

On Dale Wirsing’s birthday in 1940, a 4-month-old suspension bridge collapses before his eyes.

Clean lines and an autumnal palette show young Dale walking with his parents across the brand-new span, whose sway caused it to be called Galloping Gertie. In one spread, its towers rise diagonally across the gutter and almost off the page, while Dale points excitedly—and the roadway bobs up and down in a hint of what’s to come. Attractive, modern design and a friendly trim size (approximately 7.5 by 9.75 inches) lend a necessary accessibility to this historical tale, while lively illustrations and no-nonsense text take care of the rest. Though Dale, watching the bridge from the kitchen window, frames the story, the narrative also peeks into other human-interest stories surrounding its collapse: engineer Clark Eldridge’s despair, a couple forced to abandon their truck, and multiple people trying to rescue a dog who was left in a car. (Unfortunately, the dog in fact died, but the narrator leaves that truth between the lines.) Depicting both the linearity of suspension cables and the chaos of fracturing supports, aided by well-integrated onomatopoeia, the art captures the crucial moments of swaying and breaking with remarkable accuracy and pathos. Named characters present White, with people of color depicted among the secondary illustrated cast. Six pages of endmatter neatly summarize and contextualize Gertie’s saga, revealing Eldridge’s time as a Japanese prisoner of war and recounting the legend of the giant Pacific octopus who apparently lives under the current Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Gripping historical engineering drama. (glossary, recommended sources) (Picture book. 7-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63217-263-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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IF YOU LIVED DURING THE PLIMOTH THANKSGIVING

Essential.

A measured corrective to pervasive myths about what is often referred to as the “first Thanksgiving.”

Contextualizing them within a Native perspective, Newell (Passamaquoddy) touches on the all-too-familiar elements of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and its origins and the history of English colonization in the territory now known as New England. In addition to the voyage and landfall of the Mayflower, readers learn about the Doctrine of Discovery that arrogated the lands of non-Christian peoples to European settlers; earlier encounters between the Indigenous peoples of the region and Europeans; and the Great Dying of 1616-1619, which emptied the village of Patuxet by 1620. Short, two- to six-page chapters alternate between the story of the English settlers and exploring the complex political makeup of the region and the culture, agriculture, and technology of the Wampanoag—all before covering the evolution of the holiday. Refreshingly, the lens Newell offers is a Native one, describing how the Wampanoag and other Native peoples received the English rather than the other way around. Key words ranging from estuary to discover are printed in boldface in the narrative and defined in a closing glossary. Nelson (a member of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa) contributes soft line-and-color illustrations of the proceedings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Essential. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-72637-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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JUST LIKE JESSE OWENS

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.

Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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