A fine entry in commemoration of the upcoming centennial of World War I.

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KNIT YOUR BIT

Even boys can knit, when it’s for their fathers fighting overseas.

It’s World War I, and Mikey’s dad is in the Army. His mother and sister are busy knitting warm garments, but Mikey won’t help. “No way! Boys don’t knit.” Then his teacher encourages the class to participate in an upcoming Central Park Knitting Bee. It’s the Purl Girls vs. the Boys’ Knitting Brigade. Mikey, the “sergeant of socks,” and his two friends practice their stitches. On the day of the bee, he marches his troops to a bench and commences the battle. The boys don’t knit too well in spite of their earnest concentration. Mikey despairs of finishing his project—a pair of socks—until an encounter with a disabled veteran gives him a more sensitive perspective on war. As in previous titles, Hopkinson was inspired by an actual event, creating a fast-paced narrative sure to appeal to children today. E-communication has long outstripped snail mail, but the loneliness and the worry of families left behind will still resonate. Guarnaccia’s pen-and-ink–and-watercolor illustrations nicely evoke the fashions of the time period. Liberal use of white space focuses attention on the children and their earnest if awkward stitchery.

A fine entry in commemoration of the upcoming centennial of World War I. (author’s note, Web resources.) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25241-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance.

MUMBET'S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

With the words of Massachusetts colonial rebels ringing in her ears, a slave determines to win her freedom.

In 1780, Mumbet heard the words of the new Massachusetts constitution, including its declaration of freedom and equality. With the help of a young lawyer, she went to court and the following year, won her freedom, becoming Elizabeth Freeman. Slavery was declared illegal and subsequently outlawed in the state. Woelfle writes with fervor as she describes Mumbet’s life in the household of John Ashley, a rich landowner and businessman who hosted protest meetings against British taxation. His wife was abrasive and abusive, striking out with a coal shovel at a young girl, possibly Mumbet’s daughter. Mumbet deflected the blow and regarded the wound as “her badge of bravery.” Ironically, the lawyer who took her case, Theodore Sedgwick, had attended John Ashley’s meetings. Delinois’ full-bleed paintings are heroic in scale, richly textured and vibrant. Typography becomes part of the page design as the font increases when the text mentions freedom. Another slave in the Ashley household was named in the court case, but Woelfle, keeping her young audience in mind, keeps it simple, wisely focusing on Mumbet.

A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance. (author’s note, selected bibliography, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6589-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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A beautiful portrayal of a historic and arduous family journey northward

OVERGROUND RAILROAD

One family’s experience of the Great Migration.

Cline-Ransome and Ransome, a husband-and-wife author-and-illustrator team, have again collaborated on an important story from African American history. Narrator Ruth Ellen, Mama, and Daddy awaken early to travel to New York without the permission or knowledge of the landowner on whose land they sharecrop. (The author’s note mentions that landowners often used threats and violence to keep sharecroppers on the land and perpetually in debt.) The family boards the train with luggage, tickets, and food in a shoebox—since black folks cannot eat in the dining car and must sit in the colored section of the train. The conductor calls out the cities as they progress North. When the conductor removes the “whites only” sign near Baltimore, African Americans can sit wherever they want—though it takes some time before Ruth Ellen and her family find white riders who smile a welcome. Ruth Ellen reads Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass aloud to Mama on the train ride, a gift from her teacher that parallels her own family’s journey. Ransome’s watercolor-and-collage illustrations effectively capture both the historical setting and the trepidation of a family who though not enslaved, nevertheless must escape as if they were. Cotton bolls throughout the images accentuate cotton’s economic dominance in the sharecropping system.

A beautiful portrayal of a historic and arduous family journey northward . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3873-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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