A VOICE FROM THE WILDERNESS

THE STORY OF ANNA HOWARD SHAW

Brown (Mary Kingsley in Africa, 2000, etc.) relies on Anna Howard Shaw’s autobiography as the inspiration for his account of a woman whose pioneer background prepared her for the causes she championed in her adult life. “By most measures, Anna Howard Shaw’s life was hard and filled with struggle. But Anna used her own scale and kept her own measurements, and that made all the difference.” So begins the story of a young girl who survived a perilous crossing of the Atlantic, settled in Massachusetts, and then spent one and a half years in the Michigan wilds, where the family was 100 miles from the railroad and 40 miles from a post office. Although Anna learned to hook fish with the iron wires from her hoop skirts and chop sod with an ax to plant corn and potatoes, she didn’t have any schooling. But there were books and she read histories, novels, and math texts until she knew them by heart. She was a schoolteacher at 15 and eventually graduated from college and received a medical degree—highly unusual for a woman in her time. She became a minister and was angered by the fact that women’s wages were half of what a man earned. She spoke to people around the world, battling for women to win the right to vote since that was, to her, the first step to independence for women. Anna Shaw died one year before the woman’s right to vote became law. Elegant phrasing and seamless narration complement pastel watercolors. The paintings are especially effective in conveying the mood of the text. Quiet, lovely scenes of the forest are in contrast to the lively scenes of the children carrying out chores. An author’s note fleshes out the details of this extraordinary woman’s life. (Biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-08362-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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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

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SAWDUST AND SPANGLES

THE AMAZING LIFE OF W.C COUP

Though so sketchy that his death (and the fact that the title is borrowed from his autobiography) isn’t even mentioned, this profile of the indefatigable and once-renowned circus impresario captures the fascination with spectacle that drove him, alone and in partnership with P.T. Barnum, to organize a number of circuses, sideshows and other popular attractions. The authors tally his innovations, which included the idea of a “circus train,” multiple rings under the Big Top and the magnificent New York Aquarium, and then close with a page of further colorful anecdotes. Potter depicts Coup and some of the circus and sideshow acts he presented in broadly brushed, typically stylized scenes, taking him from dazzled small-town lad to nattily dressed showman proudly presenting his array of marine life to viewers. Barnum tends to outshine all of his contemporaries and successors, but here’s at least a suggestion that his story wasn’t the only one. (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-9351-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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