A tip of the stovepipe hat for making a poetry biography so much fun.

THE SUPERLATIVE A. LINCOLN

POEMS ABOUT OUR 16TH PRESIDENT

Telling Abraham Lincoln’s story in poetry is a tall order, but Meyer pulls it off.

“Come read about a legend— / the greatest of the greats; / from a poor boy in the backwoods / to a president, first-rate.” The title of each celebratory poem offers a yearbook-style superlative about our 16th president: “Best Wrestler,” “Best Lumberjack,” “Who’s Tallest?” Each poem is accompanied by a brief paragraph providing context for the poem. The rhyming poems are mostly in third person, though one is in the voice of Lincoln’s stovepipe hat, and there’s another from Grace Bedell, who wrote to the president encouraging him to grow a beard. The upbeat poems and string of superlatives, however, leave little room for more nuanced explanations, as in “Strongest Conviction: Signing the Emancipation,” from which readers learn that Lincoln freed the slaves but not that they weren’t really free yet nor that his commitment to abolition was limited. The portrait orientation of the volume is the right choice for our tall president, and Szalay’s attractive, folksy art manages to capture the homespun spirit of the poems. Brown faces appear in the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial, and President Barack Obama and Frederick Douglass make appearances. The collection will make excellent reading aloud in the classroom, a few a day.

A tip of the stovepipe hat for making a poetry biography so much fun. (author’s note, superlative words, timeline, resources, quotation sources, bibliography) (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58089-937-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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A book to share that celebrates an immigrant and his abiding love for his adopted country, its holidays, and his “home sweet...

IRVING BERLIN, THE IMMIGRANT BOY WHO MADE AMERICA SING

A Jewish immigrant from Russia gives America some of its most iconic and beloved songs.

When Israel Baline was just 5 years old, his family fled pogroms in the Russian Empire and landed in New York City’s Lower East Side community. In the 1890s the neighborhood was filled with the sights, smells, and, most of all, sounds of a very crowded but vibrant community of poor Europeans who sailed past the Statue of Liberty in New York’s harbor to make a new life. Israel, who later became Irving Berlin, was eager to capture those sounds in music. He had no formal musical training but succeeded grandly by melding the rich cantorial music of his father with the spirit of America. Churnin’s text focuses on Berlin’s early years and how his mother’s words were an inspiration for “God Bless America.” She does not actually refer to Berlin as Jewish until her author’s note. Sanchez’s digital illustrations busily fill the mostly dark-hued pages with angular faces and the recurring motif of a very long swirling red scarf, worn by Berlin throughout. Librarians should note that the CIP information and the timeline are on pages pasted to the inside covers.

A book to share that celebrates an immigrant and his abiding love for his adopted country, its holidays, and his “home sweet home.” (author’s note, timeline) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-939547-44-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of...

THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON

A 50th-anniversary commemoration of the epochal Apollo 11 mission.

Modeling her account on “The House That Jack Built” (an unspoken, appropriate nod to President John F. Kennedy’s foundational role in the enterprise), Greene takes Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins from liftoff to post-splashdown ticker-tape parade. Side notes on some spreads and two pages of further facts with photographs at the end, all in smaller type, fill in select details about the mission and its historical context. The rhymed lines are fully cumulated only once, so there is some repetition but never enough to grow monotonous: “This is the Moon, a mysterious place, / a desolate land in the darkness of space, / far from Earth with oceans blue.” Also, the presentation of the text in just three or fewer lines per spread stretches out the narrative and gives Brundage latitude for both formal and informal group portraits of Apollo 11’s all-white crew, multiple glimpses of our planet and the moon at various heights, and, near the end, atmospheric (so to speak) views of the abandoned lander and boot prints in the lunar dust.

It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of tributes to our space program’s high-water mark. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-412-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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