Positively joyous.

READ REVIEW

THE GOLDEN THREAD

A SONG FOR PETE SEEGER

A prose song celebrates Pete Seeger’s inestimable contribution to American music and social justice.

Meloy, musician and songwriter for the Decembrists, honors the long career of this remarkable activist in words that sing and soar in joyful homage. The text, presented as poetry or song lyrics, begs to be read aloud from its opening phrases: “I heard there was a golden thread / A shining magic thing / That bounded up our little world / —I HEARD PETE SEEGER SING!” Meloy covers the big moments in Seeger’s life: banjo-playing at union rallies and while in the Army in World War II, performing with the Weavers, the decade of McCarthy-era blacklisting, the Newport Folk Festival, the Hudson River sloop Clearwater. McClure’s detailed, cut–black-paper illustrations, highlighted with ribbons of gold-yellow paper containing lyrics from Seeger’s songs, have the look of woodcuts, lending folk-art and mid-20th-century flavors to the pages. Seeger’s iconic tools, a banjo and his wood-chopping axe, appear as a crossed design on the cover. There is a warmth and energy in the use of just the two colors that leaves room for the narrative to convey, in the words of the title song, the “rainbow design” in Seeger’s rich gift of music and advocacy. A timeline covering Seeger’s nine decades, a list of recordings, author’s and illustrator’s notes, and an adult-directed bibliography offer additional depth.

Positively joyous. (Picture book/biography. 4-10)

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-236825-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Pretty but substance-free—which is probably not how any of this book’s subjects would like to be remembered.

SHE PERSISTED

13 AMERICAN WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD

Inspired by Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s stand against the appointment of Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general—and titled for Sen. Mitch McConnell’s stifling of same—glancing introductions to 13 American women who “persisted.”

Among the figures relatively familiar to the audience are Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, and Ruby Bridges; among the more obscure are union organizer Clara Lemlich, physician Virginia Apgar, and Olympian Florence Griffith Joyner. Sonia Sotomayor and Oprah Winfrey are two readers may already have some consciousness of. The women have clearly been carefully selected to represent American diversity, although there are significant gaps—there are no Asian-American women, for instance—and the extreme brevity of the coverage leads to reductivism and erasure: Osage dancer Maria Tallchief is identified only as “Native American,” and lesbian Sally Ride’s sexual orientation is elided completely. Clinton’s prose is almost bloodless, running to such uninspiring lines as, about Margaret Chase Smith, “she persisted in championing women’s rights and more opportunities for women in the military, standing up for free speech and supporting space exploration.” Boiger does her best to compensate, creating airy watercolors full of movement for each double-page spread. Quotations are incorporated into illustrations—although the absence of dates and context leaves them unmoored. That’s the overall feeling readers will get, as the uniformity of presentation and near-total lack of detail makes this overview so broad as to be ineffectual. The failure to provide any sources for further information should the book manage to pique readers’ interests simply exacerbates the problem.

Pretty but substance-free—which is probably not how any of this book’s subjects would like to be remembered. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4172-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier.

FACTS VS. OPINIONS VS. ROBOTS

Charismatic robots populate this primer for kids growing up in an era when facts are considered debatable and opinions are oft expressed loudly and without empathy.

Rex tackles a very serious topic infrequently addressed in kids’ books: how to tell the difference between provable facts and far-less-provable opinions. To do this, Rex employs a handful of colorful and chatty robot pals who run through enough examples to make the distinctions clear. For instance, it’s a fact that the blue robot has two arms while the gold robot has four. However, while they both like to dance, it’s less certain there’s a definitive answer to the question: “Which of them has the coolest moves?” When the green and yellow robots share their preferences for ice cream (yes, robots eat ice cream, just add oil or nuts and bolts), it turns into a fight that might have come off a Twitter thread (“We are getting chocolate!” “No way, buckethead!”). Via a series of reboots, the robots learn how to respect opinions and engage in compromise. It’s a welcome use of skill-building to counter an information landscape filled with calls of “Fake news!” and toxic online discourse. Rex never says that these ’bots sometimes act like social media bots when they disagree, but he doesn’t have to. Perhaps most importantly, Rex’s robots demonstrate that in the absence of enough information, it’s perfectly fine to wait before acting.

Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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