A robust lead-in to Cheryl Harness’ They’re Off! (2002) and other more detailed histories.

READ REVIEW

RIDE ON, WILL CODY!

A LEGEND OF THE PONY EXPRESS

Horses and rider tackle time, distance, and the elements in this tribute to a legendary Pony Express gallop.

As Rose freely admits, “legendary” may be just the word for Cody’s claim to have been a Pony Express rider. Nonetheless, in galloping rhyme she sends him on his way across Wyoming and back in a dawn-to-dawn dash that Lillington illustrates with scenes of the teenager pounding along past buttes and buffalo, through heavy rain, beneath orange and star-speckled skies in turn. It’s a horsey sort of episode, as both words and pictures specify breeds or types with each change of mount along the trail: “Trade a Mustang for a Morgan, / ’Loosa for a Thoroughbred. / Racing, flying, / ever riding, / hurry, hurry on ahead.” A double-page spread that presents eight separate vignettes of Cody on eight different horses as the sky darkens provides effective visual counterpoint to the verse. A final view of the horse and rider wearily finishing their long route as the sun begins to rise once again gives way to a painted portrait of the grown Buffalo Bill resplendent in his buckskins. The author fills in the historical details in an afterword with period illustrations. Human figures in all the pictures are white.

A robust lead-in to Cheryl Harness’ They’re Off! (2002) and other more detailed histories. (afterword) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7068-5

Page Count: 37

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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The runt of the litter of print titles and websites covering the topic.

PRESIDENT ADAMS' ALLIGATOR

This tally of presidential pets reads like a school report (for all that the author is a journalist for Fox Business Network) and isn’t helped by its suite of amateurish illustrations.

Barnes frames the story with a teacher talking to her class and closes it with quizzes and a write-on “ballot.” Presidents from Washington to Obama—each paired to mentions of birds, dogs, livestock, wild animals and other White House co-residents—parade past in a rough, usually undated mix of chronological order and topical groupings. The text is laid out in monotonous blocks over thinly colored scenes that pose awkwardly rendered figures against White House floors or green lawns. In evident recognition that the presidents might be hard to tell apart, on some (but not enough) pages they carry identifying banners. The animals aren’t so differentiated; an unnamed goat that William Henry Harrison is pulling along with his cow Sukey in one picture looks a lot like one that belonged to Benjamin Harrison, and in some collective views, it’s hard to tell which animals go with which first family.

The runt of the litter of print titles and websites covering the topic. (bibliography, notes for adult readers) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62157-035-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Patriot Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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THE RIDE

THE LEGEND OF BETSY DOWDY

It’s 1775 and the people of North Carolina want freedom from England’s rule, but “[w]hen sixteen-year-old Betsy Dowdy heard Papa talk about war approaching, she felt as helpless as a ghost crab skittering along the sand.” The legendary Betsy of Currituck (her existence has never been proven) isn’t helpless, though. She promptly saddles up her pony Bess and rides all night—50 miles over hill and dale—to warn General Skinner’s militia about the incoming redcoats. In what may be the most Fauvist depiction of colonial America ever, Priceman’s splendidly untamed gouache-and-ink spreads reflect the menacing inevitability of war with fiery oranges and the red-cloaked Betsy’s phantasmagorical nighttime ride in deep blues and purples. Perspectives are distorted, buildings topsy-turvy, eyes of human and beast are wild and wide—even the sharp-toothed river fish look agitated, as in a crazy nightmare. The muddled story—more odd, atmospheric drama than history lesson—may just end up unsettling readers, though, despite the trumpeting clarity of its made-for-radio-voice refrain: “She couldn’t fight as a soldier. But she could ride.” (stylized map, author’s note) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4169-2816-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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