Handsome, well-executed history for a young audience.



The peculiar enmity between founding fathers Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton culminated in an infamous duel.

Brown takes a broad, evenhanded, and pared-down look at the lives of Burr and Hamilton. Both were orphaned as children, both were slender, bright, and determined. After serving in the Revolutionary War, they became lawyers—even occasional colleagues—and developed political passions. They look similar in the quick strokes of Brown’s pen-and-wash illustrations: in gray coats and white cravats, their foreheads high and faces narrow. Panels and dialogue balloons create motion to match the brief, informative narrative. The irascible Hamilton frequently insulted Burr during Burr’s 1800 presidential bid against Jefferson. When, in 1804, Burr ran for governor of New York, Hamilton struck an intolerable blow. Hamilton scowls, pen in hand, as the word “Despicable” appears in a thought balloon above his head. On the page opposite, Burr grimaces as he reads the word aloud, and it appears above his own head. This illustration is evoked at the climax, in which two hands holding pistols face off across the opening, smoke and blood-red fire spitting from the barrels, the word “BANG!” below each. The final page sums up the result for Burr, the survivor: regret and lost reputation. An author’s note for older readers adds texture; the bibliography is adult-directed.

Handsome, well-executed history for a young audience. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59643-998-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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            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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There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark.



This distillation of the photographer’s life and achievements focuses on his “antsy” youth and early influences.

A distracted, sickly student, Ansel reveled in nature along the beaches near his San Francisco home. He blossomed after his prescient father withdrew him from formal schooling, enabling home tutoring and such experiences as a season ticket to San Francisco’s 1915 world’s fair. Effectively employing onomatopoeia, Jenson-Elliott reveals 14-year-old Ansel’s pivotal experience at Yosemite. On a family trip, “Ansel got his first glimpse of Yosemite Valley—the ripple-rush-ROAR! of water and light! Light! Light! It was love at first sight.” In Yosemite, his parents gave him his first camera, and “he was off— Run-leap-scramble—SNAP!…Ansel’s photos became a / journal of everything he saw.” The final five double-page spreads compress 60-plus years: photography expeditions in Yosemite, marriage to Virginia Best, Adams’ government-commissioned work documenting the national parks, and the enduring importance of his photographic record of the American wild lands. Hale’s collages blend traditional and digital layering and include cropped photographic images such as Adams’ childhood home and wood-paneled station wagon. Her stylized depiction of Yosemite’s Half Dome and decision to render several iconic photographs as painterly thumbnails display a jarring disregard for Adams’ lifelong absorption with technical and visual precision.

There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark. (biographical note, photographs with note, bibliography of adult resources, websites) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-082-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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