An attractive volume created out of an insubstantial historical anecdote.

Abraham Lincoln gets himself into big trouble and ends up facing a political opponent in a duel.

Two fellows with razor-sharp swords are on a boat together headed to Bloody Island. This may sound like the plot for a pirate adventure tale, but no, this is a true story of Abraham Lincoln and fellow Illinois politician James Shields out to settle a score in 1842, when Lincoln was a young Springfield lawyer. Shields took offense when Lincoln wrote a letter as “Aunt Rebecca” to the Sangamo Journal, a Whig paper, calling Shields a fool and a “conceity dunce.” Following a rash of other letters from the fictitious lady, Shields challenged Lincoln to a duel, and off they went to Bloody Island. Lincoln didn’t want to kill Shields, nor did he care to die himself, so, as the challenged man, Lincoln got to name the weapons and set the rules. He came up with a clever plan that, as things turned out, wasn’t even necessary, as the duel never happened. It was an “almost-duel.” Bowman’s upbeat telling is infused with folksy humor, and Schindler’s superb watercolor-and-ink illustrations effectively capture the period (populating scenes with an all-white cast). After all the setup, though, the conclusion is a letdown, albeit one that is true to history. A rather limp allusion to the Emancipation Proclamation attempts to connect this minor episode to what Lincoln’s best known for. Backmatter offers further information and discusses the political careers of Lincoln and Shields.

An attractive volume created out of an insubstantial historical anecdote. (sources) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-56145-852-3

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018


Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40.

From two Nobel Peace Prize winners, an invitation to look past sadness and loneliness to the joy that surrounds us.

Bobbing in the wake of 2016’s heavyweight Book of Joy (2016), this brief but buoyant address to young readers offers an earnest insight: “If you just focus on the thing that is making / you sad, then the sadness is all you see. / But if you look around, you will / see that joy is everywhere.” López expands the simply delivered proposal in fresh and lyrical ways—beginning with paired scenes of the authors as solitary children growing up in very different circumstances on (as they put it) “opposite sides of the world,” then meeting as young friends bonded by streams of rainbow bunting and going on to share their exuberantly hued joy with a group of dancers diverse in terms of age, race, culture, and locale while urging readers to do the same. Though on the whole this comes off as a bit bland (the banter and hilarity that characterized the authors’ recorded interchanges are absent here) and their advice just to look away from the sad things may seem facile in view of what too many children are inescapably faced with, still, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the world more qualified to deliver such a message than these two. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-48423-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022


Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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