An eye-catching title sure to dazzle.

DAZZLE SHIPS

WORLD WAR I AND THE ART OF CONFUSION

During World War I, British and American ships were painted in ways meant to deceive German U-boat crews.

Submarine attacks were becoming a problem, and the British and Americans needed a plan to save their ships. Norman Wilkinson of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve came up with a new idea: camouflage. Obviously, they couldn’t make the ships invisible, but maybe they could paint them in a way that would confuse submarine officers and make it difficult to determine which way a ship was heading and how fast—important since torpedoes were fired not at the ship but at the spot where the ship would soon be. In 1917, ships were “dazzle-painted,” or painted in “crazy” designs meant to confuse. Ngai uses analog and digital media to great effect, from the dazzling cover (which will attract many readers all by itself) to the range of designs employed, applying an appropriate period aesthetic throughout. Readers, however, may not quite see the genius, since, in most illustrations, it’s pretty clear which direction the ships are heading, and the perspective from German periscopes is lacking. And, by war’s end, the Royal Navy couldn’t prove that dazzle had spared any ships, which may sink enthusiasm for the story. Still, it’s a fascinating volume about a little-known side of the war.

An eye-catching title sure to dazzle. (author’s note, illustrator’s note, timeline, further reading) (Informational picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5124-1014-3

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

OIL

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Visually attractive but cursory.

GREAT STREETS OF THE WORLD

FROM LONDON TO SAN FRANCISCO

Readers are invited to wander Regent Street in London, La Rambla in Barcelona, Rynok Square in Lviv, Ukraine, and Hàng Bac in Hanoi, among others.

A well-traveled adult or even an armchair traveler may appreciate the lively sketches, emphasizing the architecture, transportation, and crowds in these busy urban sites. Will children? Perhaps not, despite the inclusion of some unusual global locales, such as the Rue de Bougounni, a large marketplace in Bamako, Mali, and Hatogaya, in Shirakawa, Japan, a historic street with “sloping, thatched roofs [that] prevent snow from piling up on top of the houses.” A few children are pictured having fun: Two kids play soccer in the Calleja de las Flores in Córdoba, Spain, and two other children make a snowman in the Japanese spread. Other kids are depicted walking alongside adults. The facts accompanying the illustrations are sometimes inadequate. The Anne Frank House receives prominent mention in the paragraph about Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht, but it’s impossible to tell whether it’s in the picture. The text about Calle 3 in Medellín, Colombia, mentions that “ten years ago, its residents barely dared to go outside” due to “the constant clashes between the army and drug gangs.” Without a specific year, the reference will be meaningless in the future. There is no map showing the various cities, nor any resources for readers motivated to learn more.

Visually attractive but cursory. (Informational picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-3-7913-7403-1

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Prestel

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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