SEYMOUR SLUG STARTS SCHOOL

Thanks to an overly enthusiastic “Fairy Slugmother,” young Seymour gets over his first day jitters—though not quite in the way he expects. Rather than help him with writing his name, or planting a lima bean in a cup, Seymour’s tutu-clad little companion, invisible to all but him, exuberantly scrawls drawings all over the paper, and scatters dirt with abandon. But Seymour’s teacher, Ms. Mildew, takes it all in stride, calmly offering him chances to clean up and try again—and so giving him the confidence, after a further mishap on the playground, to decline the fairy’s insistent offers of assistance. Despite an occasional problem with the book’s gutter, Armstrong-Ellis’s buoyant, tongue-in-cheek illustrations play off perfectly against Seymour’s anxieties, emphasizing appropriately glutinous-looking browns and greens in portraying a lumpish, stalk-eyed cast in human dress and settings. A sluggy, but not at all sluggish, variation on the familiar “first day” theme. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8108-5779-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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An admirable, warts-and-all history of a milestone in environmental preservation.

EMPIRE OF SHADOWS

THE EPIC STORY OF YELLOWSTONE

The story of a national park might seem a niche subject, but OnEarth magazine editor Black (Casting a Spell: The Bamboo Fly Rod and the American Pursuit of Perfection, 2006, etc.) surrounds it with a colorful, stormy, often-distressing history of our northern mountain states.

The author begins with Lewis and Clark, whose 1804–06 expedition passed nearby but brought back only rumors of odd geological events. The northern Rockies remained a backwater for another half-century. Almost no one but fur traders took an interest for the first 30 years; wagon trains pouring west after 1840 passed well to the south. By the 1850s gold mining and ranching produced settlers, quickly followed by the Army, both anxious to eliminate the Indians. Black provides painful details of 20 years of conflict that accomplished this goal. Lacking gold or good grazing, the Yellowstone area attracted few settlers, but visitors brought back tales of wondrous geysers, boiling springs and breathtaking scenery. In 1869 the small, privately funded Cook-Folsom-Peterson Expedition produced such a tantalizing report that Montana residents organized a large expedition. That expedition spent a month exploring, resulting in a torrent of publicity that led to the federally funded Hayden Geological Survey of 1871. Its enthusiastic report included historical photographs by William Henry Jackson and paintings by Thomas Moran, and the resulting publicity persuaded Congress to create the world’s first national park in 1872. Congress did not, however, provide money, so vandalism, poaching and commercial exploitation flourished until 1886 when the Army moved in. It did not leave until the new National Park Service took over in 1918.

An admirable, warts-and-all history of a milestone in environmental preservation.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-38319-0

Page Count: 576

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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SACAJAWEA

THE JOURNEY WEST

This latest addition to the Drawing America series tells the story of Lewis and Clark's young native guide, Sacajawea. When Sacajawea, Shoshoni Indian girl, is captured by raiders, it will be years before she is reunited with her tribe. Her new life with the Minnetaree is that of a slave. She remains in this situation for three years until she is sold to a French-Canadian fur trader. Raphael and Bolognese (Donkey, It's Snowing, 1981, etc.) then write that she is married at 13 to the trader, but not how she responds to these new circumstances. When a group of explorers headed by Lewis and Clark need a Shoshoni translator, they hire Sacajawea. The journey to her village is full of hardship, yet Sacajawea ``did not complain.'' She treats the men's wounds, finds food for them, and mends their clothing—all without a grumble. The eventual meeting between Sacajawea and her tribe is a success. Her brother, now chief, promises to supply the expedition with much-needed horses. Although she has finally come home, Sacajawea will not remain in her village. She decides that there is still the great ocean for her to see. This superficial version of Sacajawea's story is devoid of feeling, although the drawing lesson at the end adds a creative touch that the narrative lacks. (Biography/Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-590-47898-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1994

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