DRUMMER BOY

MARCHING TO THE CIVIL WAR

An appealing Civil War story about a 13-year-old boy who proved to himself that he was useful, despite the opinion of his father: “Pa said I wasn’t much use, not like my brother, Jed, who left before me.” When the nameless boy hears President Lincoln speak, the appeal for help seems to be directed right to him. The boy writes a note to his father, climbs out the window one night, and enlists by lying about his age, becoming a drummer boy for the North. War is worse than he could have imagined, until he learns that “if I kept beating my drums I couldn’t always hear the men crying out or the horses dying.” The soldiers encourage him: “[T]hey tell me it covers the first sounds of battle, so I guess I am some use after all.” Turner (Angel Hide and Seek, p. 745, etc.) tells an unforgettably sad story, of youth wasted, and of the thoughtless condemnation of a child by a parent. Lovely realistic illustrations make vivid the lessons of the story. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 1998

ISBN: 0-06-027696-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1998

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MR. LINCOLN’S BOYS

BEING THE MOSTLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S TROUBLEMAKING SONS TAD AND WILLIE

Not much is heard about President Lincoln’s children, so Rabin fills a gap with this brief snapshot into the lives of two of them, Tad and Willie, which Ibatoulline illustrates with a softly drenched light that suggests yesteryear and a hint of melancholy, his images often evoking hand-tinted daguerreotypes. Working from historical documents, then embellishing to give the story a narrative, Rabin pleasingly draws two little rascals, full of practical jokes and absolute entitlement to their father’s attention, which the old stoic gives with imperturbable, beatific grace (while his aides bite their tongues). When the boys have second thoughts after condemning a toy soldier to death, they go to their father for a pardon; Abe consents with a wry “it makes me feel rested after a hard day’s work, to find some good excuse to save a man’s life.” An author’s note explains the genesis of the story and fleshes out the principals, including Tad and Willie, who, like their father, lived too-brief lives. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-670-06169-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2008

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The runt of the litter of print titles and websites covering the topic.

PRESIDENT ADAMS' ALLIGATOR

This tally of presidential pets reads like a school report (for all that the author is a journalist for Fox Business Network) and isn’t helped by its suite of amateurish illustrations.

Barnes frames the story with a teacher talking to her class and closes it with quizzes and a write-on “ballot.” Presidents from Washington to Obama—each paired to mentions of birds, dogs, livestock, wild animals and other White House co-residents—parade past in a rough, usually undated mix of chronological order and topical groupings. The text is laid out in monotonous blocks over thinly colored scenes that pose awkwardly rendered figures against White House floors or green lawns. In evident recognition that the presidents might be hard to tell apart, on some (but not enough) pages they carry identifying banners. The animals aren’t so differentiated; an unnamed goat that William Henry Harrison is pulling along with his cow Sukey in one picture looks a lot like one that belonged to Benjamin Harrison, and in some collective views, it’s hard to tell which animals go with which first family.

The runt of the litter of print titles and websites covering the topic. (bibliography, notes for adult readers) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62157-035-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Patriot Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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