FRANKLIN & ELEANOR

“The story of Franklin and Eleanor is a story of overcoming,” Harness writes, and in developing that theme, she pays heartfelt tribute to two lives united by a dedication to service. Opening with a Roosevelt family tree, the author tells their tales in parallel passages—how shy ugly-duckling Eleanor only slowly threw off the influences of a disappointed mother and an overbearing mother-in-law, while Franklin’s stubborn battle with polio “taught the young prince of Springwood humility and an understanding of what it was like to be helpless.” She illustrates with unusually restrained (for her) foreground scenes, flanked by pale, accurate portraits that trace the two principals from youth to old age. The closing resource list is aimed at older readers, but younger ones will come away with a clear sense of the personal qualities that Franklin and Eleanor brought to their partnership, and why, for their accomplishments, they “will always stand tall in the story of their country.” (Picture-book biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-525-47259-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2004

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AMERICAN HISTORY FRESH SQUEEZED!

“In fourteen hundred and ninety two, / Columbus did not have a clue.” In deft, light verse, Shields (Food Fight, p. 963, etc.) revisits dozens of high and low spots in this country’s history, to which political cartoonist Thompson appends plenty of fine-lined, tongue-in-cheek caricatures and vignettes. The tone is generally, but not always, jocular; between noting that the continent’s earliest inhabitants “hissed and growled and roared great roars— / the first Americans were dinosaurs,” and a soaring tribute to the Statue of Liberty, who “saw the towers’ awful fall” but still “holds her torch up high,” the poet treats readers to a cavalcade of wars, inventions, and firsts. There’s also a three-part “Parade of Presidents,” and accounts of selected watershed events—most memorably the Montgomery bus boycott, sung to a certain familiar tune: “The driver on the bus said, ‘Move on back! / Move on back! Move on back! / White folk in front and black in the back. / All through the town!’” Though the skimpy (and not always accurate: the Emancipation Proclamation did not free “all slaves”) running header timeline s a dispensable feature, on the whole this will make an indispensable, refreshing break from tests and textbooks. (index) (Poetry. 9-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-929766-62-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2002

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

INFINITE COUNTRY

A 15-year-old girl in Colombia, doing time in a remote detention center, orchestrates a jail break and tries to get home.

"People say drugs and alcohol are the greatest and most persuasive narcotics—the elements most likely to ruin a life. They're wrong. It's love." As the U.S. recovers from the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, from the misery of separations on the border, from both the idea and the reality of a wall around the United States, Engel's vital story of a divided Colombian family is a book we need to read. Weaving Andean myth and natural symbolism into her narrative—condors signify mating for life, jaguars revenge; the embattled Colombians are "a singed species of birds without feathers who can still fly"; children born in one country and raised in another are "repotted flowers, creatures forced to live in the wrong habitat"—she follows Talia, the youngest child, on a complex journey. Having committed a violent crime not long before she was scheduled to leave her father in Bogotá to join her mother and siblings in New Jersey, she winds up in a horrible Catholic juvie from which she must escape in order to make her plane. Hence the book's wonderful first sentence: "It was her idea to tie up the nun." Talia's cross-country journey is interwoven with the story of her parents' early romance, their migration to the United States, her father's deportation, her grandmother's death, the struggle to reunite. In the latter third of the book, surprising narrative shifts are made to include the voices of Talia's siblings, raised in the U.S. This provides interesting new perspectives, but it is a little awkward to break the fourth wall so late in the book. Attention, TV and movie people: This story is made for the screen.

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982159-46-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Nothing to roar over but a pleaser for fans of all things big, toothy, and extinct.

PREHISTORIC

DINOSAURS, MEGALODONS, AND OTHER FASCINATING CREATURES OF THE DEEP PAST

An illustrated overview of life’s history on Earth, moving backward from now to its beginnings 3.5 billion years ago.

Zoehfeld begins with the present epoch, using the unofficial Anthropocene moniker, then skips back 12,000 years to the beginning of the Holocene and so back by periods to the Ediacaran and its predecessors, with pauses along the way to marvel at the widespread End-Cretaceous and End-Permian extinctions. Along with offering general observations about each time’s climate and distinctive biota, she occasionally veers off for glances at climate change, food webs, or other tangential topics. In each chapter she also identifies several creatures of the era that Csotonyi illustrates, usually but not always with photographic precision in scenes that are long on action but mostly light on visible consumption or gore. If some of the landscape views are on the small side, they do feature arresting portraits of, for instance, a crocodilian Smilosuchus that seems to be 100% toothy maw and a pair of early rodents resembling fierce, horned guinea pigs dubbed Ceratogaulus. Though largely a gimmick—the chapters are independent, organized internally from early to late, and could be reshuffled into conventional order with little or no adjustment to the narrative—the reverse-time arrangement does afford an unusual angle on just how far deep time extends.

Nothing to roar over but a pleaser for fans of all things big, toothy, and extinct. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-912920-05-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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