Of possible interest where poppies are distributed around Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Imbued with an unwavering sense of duty and patriotism, a woman conceives a lasting tribute to war veterans.

Georgia schoolteacher Moina Michael, deeply saddened at the outbreak of World War I, wanted to help departing soldiers. She rolled bandages, knitted socks and sweaters, and boosted morale by delivering books, food and goodwill. These efforts, even combined with waving farewell at train stations, weren’t enough; Michael yearned to do more. Working with the YMCA in New York City, she offered support and kindness to soldiers. A chance rereading of the famous wartime poem “In Flanders Fields,” with its images of poppies on graves, galvanized Michael into action, and she devoted herself to seeing that a red poppy became a symbol to memorialize the war dead. Her idea eventually led to the public distribution of paper poppies to raise funds for veterans and military families, a tradition that continues in some communities. Michael’s moral force and commitment are commendable and noteworthy, but this is a well-meaning, though only serviceably written, overwrought book that will resonate more with adults. Children of military families may take it more to heart than other youngsters, especially those unfamiliar with the tradition. The heroic oil paintings are colorful, and Michael looks nothing less than beatific.

Of possible interest where poppies are distributed around Memorial Day and Veterans Day. (prologue, epilogue, author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59078-754-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012


A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015


            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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999