A PICTURE BOOK OF SACAGAWEA

Adler is the author of the wide-ranging and market-savvy Picture Book Biography series that now tops 25 titles. Here he focuses on his first Native American figure, the Shoshone woman Sacagawea, the only woman in the Lewis and Clark Louisiana Purchase “Corps of Discovery.” Adler’s reliable no-nonsense approach is inclusive enough to satisfy most second- through third-grade biography readers’ needs, but those seeking inspiration or validation will need to look elsewhere. Most of the familiar elements of Sacagawea’s life are here: the approximate place and date of birth; death of her mother in a raid by a rival tribe; her marriage to a French trapper Charbonneau; joining the expedition with her husband; the birth of her son Jean Baptiste; her ability to communicate with other native peoples; her wide ranging knowledge of edible plants; etc. Unfortunately, Adler’s prose style is flat-footed. Even when recounting some of the more interesting bits (the fact that she carried her son on a cradleboard throughout most of the expedition; an unexpected reunion with her brother; how she saved the expedition’s medicines in a canoeing accident), the text communicates neither excitement nor pride of purpose. Brown’s awkward watercolor art can’t rescue this from mundane. The cover and interior depictions of a sweet-faced, pig-tailed adult Sacagawea are greeting-card bland, and most figure groups are awkwardly composed. A barely additional purchase. (Picture book biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 15, 2000

ISBN: 0-8234-1485-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

BEATRIX

VARIOUS EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF BEATRIX POTTER

Winter follows up Emily Dickinson’s Letters to the World (p. 111) with a similarly evocative character portrait, pairing small, formal, closely-framed portraits of Beatrix Potter—at various ages, and usually in the company of small animals, as she so often was—with a first person narrative into which she folds Potter’s own words (set off in italics). The general tone is grave, often melancholy: “No one has time for me. I talk to the birds, who have the time.” Reflecting the loneliness of her childhood, Potter’s face is the only human one to be seen (with a single, late exception), and an occasional slight smile is the only outward sign of her inner pleasure at drawing, photographing, or just being with her many animal friends. Winter traces Potter’s burgeoning interest in observing and recording the natural world, covers the genesis of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and closes with a “happily-ever-after” image of rabbits and fairies dancing in the dooryard of the farm where Potter spent her last decades. “I live so much out of the world,” she ruefully averred, but, just as her works have helped to connect generations of children to the natural one, so will this diminutive keepsake bring her private one into focus. (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 4, 2003

ISBN: 0-374-30655-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

GEORGE WASHINGTON’S TEETH

Now It Can Be Told: that severe, square-jawed look that the Father of Our Country flashes in his portraits reveals not only strength of character, but also his struggle to hide the fact that he was nearly (entirely, later in life) toothless by keeping a succession of spring-loaded false teeth in place. Drawing information from Washington’s own writings, the authors deliver a double account of his dental tribulations: first in sprightly rhyme—Martha “fed him mush and pickled tripe, / But when guests came to dine, / He sneaked one of his favorite nuts. / Then he had only nine”—followed by a detailed, annotated timeline. Cole’s (Larky Mavis, 2001, etc.) freely drawn, rumpled-looking watercolors document the countdown as well, with scenes of the unhappy statesman at war and at home, surrounded by family, attendants (including dark-skinned ones), and would-be dentists, all in authentic 18th-century dress. Contrary to popular belief, Washington’s false teeth were made not of wood, but of real teeth and hippo ivory; a photo of his last set closes this breezy, sympathetic, carefully-researched vignette on a note that will have readers feeling the great man’s pain—and never looking at his painted visage the same way again. (source notes) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2003

ISBN: 0-374-32534-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more