FINDING PROVIDENCE

THE STORY OF ROGER WILLIAMS

Avi's first entry in the I Can Read chapter-book series tells the true story of Roger Williams's 1635 flight from arrest for "preaching dangerous new ideas." He heads into the wilds of colonial New England, eventually sending for his family to join him in founding a new settlement where religious freedom is allowed, which his daughter, the narrator, names Providence. The story covers only his decision to flee and the highlights of his subsequent journey, an odd time frame that leaves out the events leading up to Williams's trial, his life with the Indians, the rigors of founding a new settlement, or even much detail about the Puritan intolerance from which he fled. During the trial, only the gasps of spectators indicate the contrast between their views and his, the latter of which will seem right and just to contemporary readers, and therefore unfathomable as the basis for prosecution. The illustrations are soft and pale, lacking drama; many of the characters share the same expression, looking as if they are whistling. A complement to other sources on Williams's life—this is neither interesting enough for general readers, nor specific enough for those not already grounded in the facts. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 1997

ISBN: 0-06-025179-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1997

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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BEATRIX

VARIOUS EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF BEATRIX POTTER

Winter follows up Emily Dickinson’s Letters to the World (p. 111) with a similarly evocative character portrait, pairing small, formal, closely-framed portraits of Beatrix Potter—at various ages, and usually in the company of small animals, as she so often was—with a first person narrative into which she folds Potter’s own words (set off in italics). The general tone is grave, often melancholy: “No one has time for me. I talk to the birds, who have the time.” Reflecting the loneliness of her childhood, Potter’s face is the only human one to be seen (with a single, late exception), and an occasional slight smile is the only outward sign of her inner pleasure at drawing, photographing, or just being with her many animal friends. Winter traces Potter’s burgeoning interest in observing and recording the natural world, covers the genesis of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and closes with a “happily-ever-after” image of rabbits and fairies dancing in the dooryard of the farm where Potter spent her last decades. “I live so much out of the world,” she ruefully averred, but, just as her works have helped to connect generations of children to the natural one, so will this diminutive keepsake bring her private one into focus. (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 4, 2003

ISBN: 0-374-30655-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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