ACROSS A DARK AND WILD SEA

Brown (A Voice from the Wilderness, 2001, etc.) continues his series of picture-book biographies of lesser-known figures with a tale of the life of Saint Columcille, the sixth-century prince and monk better known by the Latin form of his name, Columba. In Ireland in Columcille’s time, “Reading and writing were like magic, and the people who knew their secrets as rare as wizards. Columcille became one of them.” When a former teacher, Finnian, would not permit him to copy a book of psalms, he did so in secret. The high king Diarmait ruled that the copy, too, belonged to Finnian and a fierce battle erupted. Though Columcille got his book back, he was devastated at the bloodshed, and took a leather boat to Iona, off the coast of Scotland. The monastery he founded there, and its scriptorium, dispatched books “like small boats on a dark and wild sea.” Reading as magical and books as worthy of being fought over are lovely lessons laid out in this powerful story. Brown’s usual tender watercolors take on a darker hue. Double-paged, wordless spreads of the battle and of the sea add to the depth of the images, as do lucid step-by-step pictures of the making of a manuscript book and the building of a coracle (leather boat). An alphabet of exquisite Irish uncial letters and an author’s note add to the richness. This works on many levels to delight and to inspire: as a stirring read-aloud, as a saint’s biography, and as a beautiful picture book. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7613-1534-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

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A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few...

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT FREEDOM

Shamir offers an investigation of the foundations of freedoms in the United States via its founding documents, as well as movements and individuals who had great impacts on shaping and reshaping those institutions.

The opening pages of this picture book get off to a wobbly start with comments such as “You know that feeling you get…when you see a wide open field that you can run through without worrying about traffic or cars? That’s freedom.” But as the book progresses, Shamir slowly steadies the craft toward that wide-open field of freedom. She notes the many obvious-to-us-now exclusivities that the founding political documents embodied—that the entitled, white, male authors did not extend freedom to enslaved African-Americans, Native Americans, and women—and encourages readers to learn to exercise vigilance and foresight. The gradual inclusion of these left-behind people paints a modestly rosy picture of their circumstances today, and the text seems to give up on explaining how Native Americans continue to be left behind. Still, a vital part of what makes freedom daunting is its constant motion, and that is ably expressed. Numerous boxed tidbits give substance to the bigger political picture. Who were the abolitionists and the suffragists, what were the Montgomery bus boycott and the “Uprising of 20,000”? Faulkner’s artwork conveys settings and emotions quite well, and his drawing of Ruby Bridges is about as darling as it gets. A helpful timeline and bibliography appear as endnotes.

A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few misfires. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54728-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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THE STORY OF EASTER

First published in 1968 and newly illustrated by Vitale, this is a history of the Christian celebration of Easter that, after briefly recounting the story of the Resurrection, links the holiday to other spring festivals, covers the ancient custom of giving the gift of an egg (a symbol of the new life of spring), and includes contemporary customs, such as the fashionable stroll down New York City's Fifth Avenue after church on that day. Also included are instructions for egg decoration and a recipe for hot cross buns. Even the recipe demonstrates the clear, informative prose of Fisher, whose expert organization leads from topic to topic. Vitale's illustrations are a marvel; each full-page picture is filled with details that reflect the times, the flora, and the culture of the era shown, colored with a range of appropriate earth tones. Every element of design makes this an inviting addition to the holiday shelf, even for those already owning the original book with Ati Forberg's illustrations. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 1997

ISBN: 0-06-027296-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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