A PICTURE BOOK OF DOLLEY AND JAMES MADISON

America’s “most underrated President” and his “Queen Dolley” receive star treatment in this latest entry in Adler’s Picture Book Biography series. Two double-page spreads introduce Dolley Madison’s heroic retrieval of White House valuables during the War of 1812. After this dramatic opening, the action turns to a young James Madison and his education. The couple’s youths are described equally, as well as the courtship between this widowed mother and the short, balding politician. The crucial events regarding Madison’s presidency, including the War of 1812 and its flawed Embargo Act, are clearly conveyed, historical complexities intact. Of the resulting 1814 peace treaty, the narrative duly notes that it “didn’t address the issues that started the war, but at least it ended it.” Himler’s soft watercolors and wispy lines suit the historical setting and balance the substantial text. Concluding with Dolley’s passing, the final illustration displays their imposing Montpelier home, a commanding reference to the family’s influence. An impressive list of source notes and recommended resources provide background support for young readers and researchers alike. (timeline, notes, bibliography, recommended websites) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2009-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2009

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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She said, “Failure is impossible,” and she was right, but unfortunately her steely determination does not come through in...

SUSAN B. ANTHONY

Susan B. Anthony worked to win women the right to vote her whole long life, but she did not live to see it done.

Wallner uses her flat decorative style and rich matte colors to depict Susan B. Anthony’s life, layering on details: Susan catching snowflakes behind her parents’ house; working in her father’s mill (briefly) and then departing school when the money ran out; writing at her desk; speaking passionately in front of small groups and rowdy crowds. It’s a little too wordy and a little less than engaging in describing a life in which Anthony traveled alone, hired her own halls, spoke tirelessly about women’s suffrage, published, created forums where women could speak freely and was arrested for registering to vote. Her life-long friendship with suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton is touched on, as are the virulent attacks against her ideas and her person. She died in 1906. Votes for women did not come to pass in the United States until 1920.

She said, “Failure is impossible,” and she was right, but unfortunately her steely determination does not come through in this book. (timeline, bibliography, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1953-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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