Budding historians as well as those unfamiliar with history will both enjoy this pleasant, fast-moving selection.

RESCUING THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

HOW WE ALMOST LOST THE WORDS THAT BUILT AMERICA

The British are coming—again!

When lowly clerk Stephen Pleasonton receives a note from his boss, Secretary of State James Monroe, everything changes. It’s 1812, and Washington, D.C., is at risk from the British—even though the U.S. military doesn’t seem to think so—and Pleasonton has been instructed to “remove the records,” meaning that he should save the original documents that helped the United States develop as a nation. Exaggerated but appealing illustrations show the sequence of events while descriptive, action-filled text narrates the tale. Fotheringham’s drawings have the look of old-time editorial cartoons, and the text pops with strategically placed emphases. While the story itself may be a mere footnote to history, it inadvertently reveals how the world has changed (paper documents and records being much less the norm today) and seeks to convey the awe many feel in regard to primary sources and artifacts. A reminder of a more innocent age when patriotism was taken for granted, this rollicking tale gives a nice sense of the time period. It also emphasizes how the actions of a less-than-famous but determined individual can have great effect and demonstrates that each person’s role in history—even one that focuses on packing up government files and papers—is important.

Budding historians as well as those unfamiliar with history will both enjoy this pleasant, fast-moving selection. (endnotes, timeline, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-274032-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few...

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT FREEDOM

Shamir offers an investigation of the foundations of freedoms in the United States via its founding documents, as well as movements and individuals who had great impacts on shaping and reshaping those institutions.

The opening pages of this picture book get off to a wobbly start with comments such as “You know that feeling you get…when you see a wide open field that you can run through without worrying about traffic or cars? That’s freedom.” But as the book progresses, Shamir slowly steadies the craft toward that wide-open field of freedom. She notes the many obvious-to-us-now exclusivities that the founding political documents embodied—that the entitled, white, male authors did not extend freedom to enslaved African-Americans, Native Americans, and women—and encourages readers to learn to exercise vigilance and foresight. The gradual inclusion of these left-behind people paints a modestly rosy picture of their circumstances today, and the text seems to give up on explaining how Native Americans continue to be left behind. Still, a vital part of what makes freedom daunting is its constant motion, and that is ably expressed. Numerous boxed tidbits give substance to the bigger political picture. Who were the abolitionists and the suffragists, what were the Montgomery bus boycott and the “Uprising of 20,000”? Faulkner’s artwork conveys settings and emotions quite well, and his drawing of Ruby Bridges is about as darling as it gets. A helpful timeline and bibliography appear as endnotes.

A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few misfires. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54728-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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