A stirring tribute to an unjustly overlooked group of heroes.

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THE SCHOOL THE AZTEC EAGLES BUILT

Nicholson chronicles the important but little-known alliance between the United States and Mexico during World War II

The neatly designed account is accessible and well-organized, telling the story in a chronological series of double-page spreads. Historic photographs throughout highlight the significant contributions to the war effort by these Mexican pilots and their hardworking ground crew as they protected U.S. troops in spite of the blatant discrimination they initially faced. Providing protective cover for U.S. Navy ships, Mexico’s Air Fighter Squadron 201 kept the ships safe from kamikaze pilots. The Aztec Eagles took out Japanese targets while flying very long range missions from Manila to Taiwan (700 miles). They were awarded the Philippine Liberation Medal for heroism and in recognition of the fact that during their 96 combat missions in the Philippines, no civilians or American military were injured or killed due to friendly fire. The highly decorated squadron “remains the only Mexican military force to see overseas combat.” Perhaps the greatest tribute to the Aztec Eagles was the school built in Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico, at the request of one of the crew members, Ángel Bocanegra del Castillo. Inaugurated in 1945 by Mexican President Ávila Camacho and the entire squadron, the school’s classrooms are still filled by children who will always be grateful to the men of “El Escaudrón 201.”

A stirring tribute to an unjustly overlooked group of heroes. (glossary, pronunciation guide, author’s note) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-60060-440-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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These short pieces may start young people on the search for more information about these intriguing figures.

LADIES OF LIBERTY

THE WOMEN WHO SHAPED OUR NATION

Highlighting women writers, educators, and reformers from the 18th and early 19th centuries, Roberts brings a group of women, many not so well-known, into focus and provides a new perspective on the early history of the United States in this picture-book version of her adult book of the same title (2008).

The women include Lucy Terry Prince, a persuasive speaker who created the first poem (an oral piece not written down for over 100 years after its creation) by an African-American; Elizabeth Bayley Seton, the first American-born saint and the founder of Catholic institutions including schools, hospitals, and orphanages; and Rebecca Gratz, a young philanthropist who started many organizations to help the Jewish community in Philadelphia. The author usually uses some quotes from primary-source materials and enlivens her text with descriptive events, such as Meriweather Lewis’ citation of Sacagawea’s “equal fortitude” with the males of the exploration party during a storm, saving many supplies when their boat capsized. The sepia-hued pen-and-ink drawings are inspired by the letters of the era, and the soft watercolor portraits of the women and the paintings that reveal more of their stories are traditional in feeling. In her introduction, the author emphasizes the importance of historical materials, such as letters, organizational records, journals, and books written at the time. Despite this, there is no bibliography or other means of sourcing quoted material.

These short pieces may start young people on the search for more information about these intriguing figures. (Informational picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-078005-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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Plenty of work for sharp eyes and active intellects in this history-based series opener.

MARY BOWSER AND THE CIVIL WAR SPY RING

From the Spy on History series , Vol. 1

Using a provided packet of helpful tools, readers can search for clues along with a historical spy in the house of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.

Fans of ciphers and hidden clues will find both in abundance, beginning on the copyright page and continuing to a final, sealed-off section of explanations and solutions. Fictionalized but spun around actual figures and events, the tale centers on Bowser, a free African-American who worked undercover as a maid in Davis’ house and passed information to a ring of white Richmond spies. Here she looks for the key phrase that will unlock a Vigenère cipher—an alphabetic substitution code—while struggling to hide her intelligence and ability to read. As an extra challenge, she leaves the diary in which she records some of her experiences concealed for readers to discover, using allusive and sometimes-misleading clues that are hidden in Cliff’s monochrome illustrations and in cryptic marginal notations. A Caesar cipher wheel, a sheet of red acetate, and several other items in a front pocket supply an espionage starter kit that readers can use along the way; it is supplemented by quick introductions in the narrative to ciphers and codes, including Morse dashes and dots and the language of flowers.

Plenty of work for sharp eyes and active intellects in this history-based series opener. (answers, historical notes, biographies, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7611-8739-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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