Deelytful and iloominaating for noo and seesuned reeders alyk.

AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET

BEN FRANKLIN & NOAH WEBSTER'S SPELLING REVOLUTION

Two Founding Fathers team up for their own miniature revolution—to simplify and standardize American English.

Printer Ben Franklin couldn’t stand inconsistent spelling. He wanted to invent some new and remove some old letters to create a phonetic alphabet. Noah Webster also couldn’t stand our inconsistent alphabet. He wanted to create a guide to grammar and pronunciation. Both wanted to change the way that Americans used English: “Using twenty-six letters to write forty-four sounds caused nothing but trouble.” The two visionaries teamed up to tackle the problem of the “inconvenient alphabet,” crafting a new alphabet—one in which letters matched sounds and sounds matched letters. When this idea failed to gain widespread support, Webster came up with new plans, this time to revolutionize spelling. His plans for seemingly simpler spellings were also rejected by the populace, leading Webster to create his best-known work: his dictionary. Both Anderson’s text and Baddeley’s illustrations are energetic and compelling. The latter playfully elucidate examples of the linguistic nuances discussed, showing (for instance) Webster and Franklin manually taking silent letters out of words such as “walk” and “knock.” The majority of illustrated figures are white, although a variety of skin tones are presented in each group illustration.

Deelytful and iloominaating for noo and seesuned reeders alyk. (author’s and illustrator’s notes, quotation sources, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0555-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived.

SURVIVOR TREE

A remarkable tree stands where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once soared.

Through simple, tender text, readers learn the life-affirming story of a Callery pear tree that grew and today still flourishes “at the foot of the towers.” The author eloquently describes the pre-9/11 life of the “Survivor Tree” and its heartening, nearly decadelong journey to renewal following its recovery from the wreckage of the towers’ destruction. By tracking the tree’s journey through the natural cycle of seasonal changes and colors after it was found beneath “the blackened remains,” she tells how, after replanting and with loving care (at a nursery in the Bronx), the tree managed miraculously to flourish again. Retransplanted at the Sept. 11 memorial, it valiantly stands today, a symbol of new life and resilience. Hazy, delicate watercolor-and–colored pencil artwork powerfully traces the tree’s existence before and after the towers’ collapse; early pages include several snapshotlike insets capturing people enjoying the outdoors through the seasons. Scenes depicting the towers’ ruins are aptly somber yet hopeful, as they show the crushed tree still defiantly alive. The vivid changes that new seasons introduce are lovingly presented, reminding readers that life unceasingly renews itself. Many paintings are cast in a rosy glow, symbolizing that even the worst disasters can bring forth hope. People depicted are racially diverse. Backmatter material includes additional facts about the tree.

A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived. (author's note, artist's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48767-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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

BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET

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. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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