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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MY TRAVELS WITH CLARA

Spun from a true historical episode and illustrated with a mix of simply drawn cartoons and 18th-century prints and paintings, this affectionate memoir recalls visits to the great cities of Europe in the company of an exotic Indian rhinoceros. Raised as an indoor pet, gentle Clara was sold to Dutch sea captain (and narrator) Douwe Van der Meer, who brought her back to Rotterdam, had a special carriage built for her and exhibited her from Rome to Berlin. She became a celebrity, especially in Paris where “Claramania” led to new rhino-influenced fashions, art objects, hair styles—and even a formal, life-sized portrait. “I’m glad that the world had the opportunity to see Clara,” Douwe concludes. “Just as important, I’m glad that Clara could see the world.” Like Mary Jo Collier’s King’s Giraffe, illustrated by Stéfane Poulin (1996), this is an engaging animal story that also provides a glimpse of a time when Europeans were at last awakening to the world’s size and wonder. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-89236-880-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Getty Publications

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2007

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A ho-hum outing next to James Rumford’s first-class Traveling Man (2001).

THE AMAZING TRAVELS OF IBN BATTUTA

A first-person précis of the journeys taken by the Muslim world’s greatest traveler.

Originally published in Arabic, Sharafeddine’s recast tale takes the 14th-century Ibn Battuta on a long, looping course from his home in Tangier to India, then on to China and back for visits to Grenada and Mali. Aside from the occasional storm or hyena attack, however, “his” narrative is a wearying recitation of place names hooked to vague details—“Cairo impressed me with its mosques and hospitals”—and repeated mentions of visits to local “theologians and legal scholars.” Furthermore, dates in the narrative are taken from the Christian calendar only, and the prose is sometimes inexpertly phrased: “I hired a camel to continue my journey”; “After ten years, he made me the ambassador of India in China.” The illustrations, done in a style reminiscent of Persian miniatures, feature large-eyed figures in period dress and evocative glimpses of grand architecture. These scenes are, however, integrated into maps that are so stylized that it’s seldom possible to get a clear picture of where the lands and cities are. The abrupt ending leaves readers who want to know more about Ibn Battuta to their own devices.

A ho-hum outing next to James Rumford’s first-class Traveling Man (2001). (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55498-480-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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