A lighthearted look at the art and soul of a recipe.

Tomato or potato?

When Manhattan chefs had the gall to insert tomatoes into the classic New England clam chowder recipe, Maine politician Cleveland Sleeper took umbrage and action, drafting an attention-getting bill to require that “anyone caught poisoning the chowder cauldron with tomatoes will be forced to dig a barrel of clams at HIGH TIDE.” Colorful, whimsical illustrations and energetic, suspenseful text relate Sleeper’s culinary concerns with drama, humor, and gusto and show how a feud developed. Before the bill could be filed, a Philadelphia restaurateur challenged Sleeper’s personally selected chef to a duel, which resulted in a media frenzy and eventual answer to the question of which soup was really the best. This lighthearted look at local politics, cooking, and loyalty to tradition shows how, in a simpler time, showmanship, economics, and politics merged. (Maine clam chowder was a major tourist attraction, and Iowa, a producer of tomatoes, objected to government interference in cooking.) Though a bit scanty in detail—when this occurred (1939) is not mentioned until the endnotes, for instance—this quirky examination of tradition, food, and law presents a comic taste of state history and provides a background for consideration of media and politics as well as competition and cooking shows. Sleeper and other named characters present White; some people of color appear in illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.3% of actual size.)

A lighthearted look at the art and soul of a recipe. (bibliography) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-944762-82-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Islandport Press

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020



A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston...

A memorable, lyrical reverse-chronological walk through the life of an American icon.

In free verse, Cline-Ransome narrates the life of Harriet Tubman, starting and ending with a train ride Tubman takes as an old woman. “But before wrinkles formed / and her eyes failed,” Tubman could walk tirelessly under a starlit sky. Cline-Ransome then describes the array of roles Tubman played throughout her life, including suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. By framing the story around a literal train ride, the Ransomes juxtapose the privilege of traveling by rail against Harriet’s earlier modes of travel, when she repeatedly ran for her life. Racism still abounds, however, for she rides in a segregated train. While the text introduces readers to the details of Tubman’s life, Ransome’s use of watercolor—such a striking departure from his oil illustrations in many of his other picture books—reveals Tubman’s humanity, determination, drive, and hope. Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson’s Moses (2006). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017


A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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