’TWAS THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS

THE STORY OF CLEMENT CLARKE MOORE’S BELOVED POEM

Seabrooke presents a problematic fictionalized account of the circumstances in which Moore wrote the famous Christmas poem. The story describes Moore’s home and family and provides some background on life in Manhattan in 1822. Bettoli’s charming illustrations, reminiscent of dePaola, capture the styles and household details of the period, reinforcing the old-fashioned ambiance. Moore’s motivations for writing the poem as well as possible influences from other literature and the Dutch culture of the area are woven into the story, and his six-year-old daughter, Charity, provides a focus for young readers. The proud father reads his newly completed poem to his family on Christmas Eve, and the text of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” is included within the story. There is no author’s note to indicate the research sources, nor is there a badly needed additional note on authorial attribution. There is considerable controversy in the academic world as to whether Moore was actually the author of the famous poem, rendering the wisdom of this whole enterprise questionable. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-525-47816-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ONE CANDLE

This Hanukkah story about a family’s ritual reenactment of Grandma and great-aunt Rose’s Hanukkah spent at Buchenwald many years ago during the “bad time” propounds a disturbing view of the Holocaust. Grandma and great-aunt Rose demonstrate to the family how they hollowed out a potato stolen from the kitchen at the camp, filled it with a dab of stolen margarine, made a wick from a piece of thread, and lit a candle to commemorate the holiday. Popp’s (Sister Anne’s Hands, 1998) realistic drawings of the celebration are soft and subtly colored, reflecting the family’s warmth and closeness, while the drawings of the camp are ghostly in sepia tones. Afterwards the whole family steps outside to look at the Hanukkah lights through the window and drink a toast to life. The disturbing piece is Grandpa’s comment that “The Germans didn’t like a lot of people. It wasn’t only the Jews.” For many, this is a deeply offensive statement, implying as it does that the Jews were not singled out by Hitler and the Germans for the very specific goal of total destruction. Even in the context of human history, the single-mindedness, efficiency, and technological resources put to the task make Hitler’s war against the Jews exceptional. Grandpa’s comment would be problematic in any event, but out of the mouth of the husband of a Holocaust survivor it is troubling indeed. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-060-28115-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

MR. LINCOLN’S BOYS

BEING THE MOSTLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S TROUBLEMAKING SONS TAD AND WILLIE

Not much is heard about President Lincoln’s children, so Rabin fills a gap with this brief snapshot into the lives of two of them, Tad and Willie, which Ibatoulline illustrates with a softly drenched light that suggests yesteryear and a hint of melancholy, his images often evoking hand-tinted daguerreotypes. Working from historical documents, then embellishing to give the story a narrative, Rabin pleasingly draws two little rascals, full of practical jokes and absolute entitlement to their father’s attention, which the old stoic gives with imperturbable, beatific grace (while his aides bite their tongues). When the boys have second thoughts after condemning a toy soldier to death, they go to their father for a pardon; Abe consents with a wry “it makes me feel rested after a hard day’s work, to find some good excuse to save a man’s life.” An author’s note explains the genesis of the story and fleshes out the principals, including Tad and Willie, who, like their father, lived too-brief lives. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-670-06169-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more