THE AMAZING IMPOSSIBLE ERIE CANAL

The book of choice for middle-grade readers embarking on the topic, this fills the gap between Peter Spier's illustrated song- text (The Erie Canal, Doubleday, 1970) and the factual detail of R. Conrad Stein's The Story of the Erie Canal (Childrens, 1985). The pages work hard. One spread encompasses a map of the canal chronicling its construction; four portraits; captioned vignettes of Niagara Falls, stairstep locks, a huge stump-pulling machine, and an aqueduct; a four-part drawing of the locks; a cross-section of the canal with towpath and bridge; and two paragraphs of the main text. Harness (Young John Quincy, 1994, etc.) is so skilled that no page appears cluttered or confusing, and with much of the information presented visually, the conception and construction of the canal are covered in eight pages. The remainder of the book is devoted to the triumphant ten-day parade of boats from Buffalo to New York City that marked the canal's completion in 1825. Intensely colored watercolor, gouache, and pencil illustrations show the canal day and night, in town and country, from vantage points high and low; more maps, diagrams, and vignettes are worked into the corners of these densely packed pages, in the author's most notable, accessible work thus far. (bibliography, music) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-02-742641-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1995

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ISAAC THE ICE CREAM TRUCK

Newcomer Santoro’s story of the ice cream truck that pined for a more important role in life suffers from a premise that’s well-worn and still fraying—the person or object that longs to be something “more” in life, only to find out that his or its lot in life is enough, after all. Isaac the ice cream truck envies all the bigger, larger, more important vehicles he encounters (the big wheels are depicted as a rude lot, sullen, surly, and snarling, hardly a group to excite much envy) in a day, most of all the fire trucks and their worthy occupants. When Isaac gets that predictable boost to his self-image—he serves up ice cream to over-heated firefighters after a big blaze—it comes as an unmistakable putdown to the picture-book audience: the children who cherished Isaac—“They would gather around him, laughing and happy”—weren’t reason enough for him to be contented. Santoro equips the tale with a tune of Isaac’s very own, and retro scenes in tropical-hued colored pencil that deftly convey the speed of the trucks with skating, skewed angles. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5296-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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THE STORY OF EASTER

First published in 1968 and newly illustrated by Vitale, this is a history of the Christian celebration of Easter that, after briefly recounting the story of the Resurrection, links the holiday to other spring festivals, covers the ancient custom of giving the gift of an egg (a symbol of the new life of spring), and includes contemporary customs, such as the fashionable stroll down New York City's Fifth Avenue after church on that day. Also included are instructions for egg decoration and a recipe for hot cross buns. Even the recipe demonstrates the clear, informative prose of Fisher, whose expert organization leads from topic to topic. Vitale's illustrations are a marvel; each full-page picture is filled with details that reflect the times, the flora, and the culture of the era shown, colored with a range of appropriate earth tones. Every element of design makes this an inviting addition to the holiday shelf, even for those already owning the original book with Ati Forberg's illustrations. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 1997

ISBN: 0-06-027296-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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