There’s not much for kids about presidential mothers, and at least this book covers every White House resident so far.

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FIRST MOTHERS

Behind every great man….And behind many of our presidents, there’s also an unknown woman. This book sheds light on our leaders’ mothers and how their influences possibly shaped the founding dads.

If they care, browsers will eke out at least one factoid they never knew about each presidential mom, even famous ones. Some tidbits are intriguing—Nancy Lincoln’s prowess as a wrestler, Malvina Arthur’s efforts to prove Chester was American-born, and Elizabeth Harrison’s warnings to Benjamin to avoid cucumbers. Many share commonalities. While some came from privilege, many raised their (usually) large families more humbly, even in poverty. Many mothers were religious and passed on strict moral values to their progeny, including an abhorrence of social injustice. Some profiles are more detailed than others, perhaps due to spottier information in older historical records. The mothers of the more recent presidents are given slightly fuller portrayals. Occasional captions and cartoon-y speech balloons add supplemental information. Some facts are simplistic, even incorrect, as in the case of Warren Harding, “one of our worst presidents,” whose corrupt administration is passed off “because he did not stand up for his ideas.” Sadly, there are several instances of disputed or inaccurate dates in various profiles. The watercolor-and–colored-pencil illustrations are bland, with many women looking identical, the passage of time marked only by changes in fashions, hairstyles and “props.”

There’s not much for kids about presidential mothers, and at least this book covers every White House resident so far. (bibliography, author’s note) (Nonfiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-22301-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage...

THE LEMONADE CRIME

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 2

This sequel to The Lemonade War (2007), picking up just a few days later, focuses on how the fourth graders take justice into their own hands after learning that the main suspect in the case of the missing lemonade-stand money now owns the latest in game-box technology.

Siblings Evan and Jessie (who skipped third grade because of her precocity) are sure Scott Spencer stole the $208 from Evan’s shorts and want revenge, especially as Scott’s new toy makes him the most popular kid in class, despite his personal shortcomings. Jessie’s solution is to orchestrate a full-blown trial by jury after school, while Evan prefers to challenge Scott in basketball. Neither channel proves satisfactory for the two protagonists (whose rational and emotional reactions are followed throughout the third-person narrative), though, ultimately, the matter is resolved. Set during the week of Yom Kippur, the story raises beginning questions of fairness, integrity, sin and atonement. Like John Grisham's Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer (2010), much of the book is taken up with introducing courtroom proceedings for a fourth-grade level of understanding. Chapter headings provide definitions  (“due diligence,” “circumstantial evidence,” etc.) and explanation cards/documents drawn by Jessie are interspersed.

Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage with the characters enough to care about how the justice actually pans out. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-27967-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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