A well-written, multipurpose war-hero story that’s both entertaining and instructive.

LIBERTY-LOVING LAFAYETTE

HOW "AMERICA’S FAVORITE FIGHTING FRENCHMAN" HELPED WIN OUR INDEPENDENCE

This children’s book celebrates the contributions of Marquis de Lafayette to the American Revolution in rhyming verse.

A quotation from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton serves this book both as an epigraph and a tip of the hat to that production’s engaging, modernized portrayal of Lafayette, “America’s favorite fighting Frenchman.” Jensen, who has also written several works of historical fiction for children as well as Christmas stories, provides a similarly fresh take on Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette and his career, beginning when he was a teenager: “Young Lafayette had dinner with the British king’s bro, / Who told him the Americans were ‘good to go.’ ” Here as elsewhere, the information sketched out in the verse is explained more completely in the endnotes. In this case, readers can learn the date, full name of the king’s “bro,” and Lafayette’s recorded reaction to the conversation. The verses go on to describe Lafayette’s career as he made his way to the Colonies and joined the Revolutionary Army. He became a major general, distinguished himself in several battles and missions, was wounded, served and befriended Washington, won support from France, and played a decisive role in the Battle of Yorktown. Jensen’s deft rhymes and meters generally work well throughout, as when describing Lafayette’s voyage to America: “He endured the trip across despite some nasty mal de mer, / And learned a bit of English by the time he landed there.” While enjoyable on its own, the book is a useful resource with its historical paintings, glossary, bibliography, and endnotes. These are clear, informative, and full of intriguing tidbits, such as noting the “extremely close friendship between the fatherless Lafayette and the childless Washington.” The verse also has performance potential for educational events.

A well-written, multipurpose war-hero story that’s both entertaining and instructive.

Pub Date: July 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9909408-1-4

Page Count: 63

Publisher: Past Times Press

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2021

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The author’s elegant narrative conveys how the love for these amazing creatures transcends national animosities.

THE PERFECT HORSE

THE DARING U.S. MISSION TO RESCUE THE PRICELESS STALLIONS KIDNAPPED BY THE NAZIS

A singular spotlight on the concerted World War II effort to save Lipizzaner stallions.

Letts (The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation, 2011, etc.), a lifelong equestrienne, eloquently brings together the many facets of this unlikely, poignant story underscoring the love and respect of man for horses. The horses in question were rare Arabian thoroughbreds introduced to Europe by the Ottoman Turks in the late 17th century and subsequently bred in Poland. The Bolsheviks had slaughtered nearly the whole stock in 1917, deeming them the “playthings of princes,” though the Polish stud stable at Janów Podlaski was finally beginning to thrive again by the time of the Russian-Nazi invasion of Poland in late 1938. Two important equine sagas, handled well by the author, converge here: the German takeover of the Janów stud farm, led by German Olympic organizer Gustav Rau, in order to reassemble the Polish horse-breeding industry for the glory of the Third Reich, which desperately needed horses for mounted troops; and the attempts to save the working Lipizzaner stallions at the aristocratic Spanish Riding School in Vienna, led by Alois Podhajsky, who had won the bronze medal in dressage at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Under Rau, the stud farm was moved to Hostau, Czechoslovakia, by October 1942, and put under the care of Polish civil servant Hubert Rudofsky, who successfully increased the number of bred Lipizzaners by 1944. With Allied bombs falling on German cities, and eventually Vienna, Podhajsky determined that his horses had to be moved to safety, eventually housed in the village of St. Martin, Austria, yet the Nazi-controlled Austrian government was loathe to relinquish control of such a symbol of Austrian determination. Enter the Americans, specifically Maj. Hank Reed of the 2nd Calvary, which had traded in tanks for horses to fight the Nazis across France, and the exciting meeting of Gen. George Patton’s army at Hostau.

The author’s elegant narrative conveys how the love for these amazing creatures transcends national animosities.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-345-54480-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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THE CIVIL WAR AT SEA

In this companion to Portraits of War: Civil War Photographers and Their Work (1998), Sullivan presents an album of the prominent ships and men who fought on both sides, matched to an engrossing account of the war's progress: at sea, on the Mississippi, and along the South's well-defended coastline. In his view, the issue never was in doubt, for though the Confederacy fought back with innovative ironclads, sleek blockade runners, well-armed commerce raiders, and sturdy fortifications, from the earliest stages the North was able to seal off, and then take, one major southern port after another. The photos, many of which were made from fragile glass plates whose survival seems near-miraculous, are drawn from private as well as public collections, and some have never been published before. There aren't any action shots, since mid-19th-century photography required very long exposure times, but the author compensates with contemporary prints, plus crisp battle accounts, lucid strategic overviews, and descriptions of the technological developments that, by war's end, gave this country a world-class navy. He also profiles the careers of Matthew Brady and several less well-known photographers, adding another level of interest to a multi-stranded survey. (source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7613-1553-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Millbrook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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