Well-informed and much-idealized if not entirely simplistic pictures of both the great man and his bustling estate.

THOMAS JEFFERSON

A DAY AT MONTICELLO

Stepping carefully around the controversies, a former curator at Monticello reconstructs the septuagenarian Jefferson’s active daily round.

Jefferson’s fixed routine begins with a faithful recording of temperature and weather at first rising and ends with a final period of solitary reading by candlelight in his unusual alcove bed. In between, the author describes in often fussy detail the range of his interests and enterprises. There’s not only his “polygraph” and other beloved gadgets, but also meals, family members, visitors, and excursions to Monticello’s diverse gardens, workshops and outbuildings. Like the dialogue, which mixes inventions with historical utterances, the generous suite of visuals includes photos of furnishings and artifacts as well as stodgy full-page tableaux and vignettes painted by Elliott. The “slaves” or “enslaved” workers (the author uses the terms interchangeably) that Jefferson encounters through the day are all historical and named—but Sally Hemings and her Jeffersonian offspring are conspicuously absent (aside from a brief name check buried in the closing timeline). Jefferson adroitly sidesteps a pointed question from his grandson, who accompanies him on his rounds, by pleading his age: “The work of ending slavery is for the young.”

Well-informed and much-idealized if not entirely simplistic pictures of both the great man and his bustling estate. (sidebars, endnotes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0541-0

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Nothing to roar over but a pleaser for fans of all things big, toothy, and extinct.

PREHISTORIC

DINOSAURS, MEGALODONS, AND OTHER FASCINATING CREATURES OF THE DEEP PAST

An illustrated overview of life’s history on Earth, moving backward from now to its beginnings 3.5 billion years ago.

Zoehfeld begins with the present epoch, using the unofficial Anthropocene moniker, then skips back 12,000 years to the beginning of the Holocene and so back by periods to the Ediacaran and its predecessors, with pauses along the way to marvel at the widespread End-Cretaceous and End-Permian extinctions. Along with offering general observations about each time’s climate and distinctive biota, she occasionally veers off for glances at climate change, food webs, or other tangential topics. In each chapter she also identifies several creatures of the era that Csotonyi illustrates, usually but not always with photographic precision in scenes that are long on action but mostly light on visible consumption or gore. If some of the landscape views are on the small side, they do feature arresting portraits of, for instance, a crocodilian Smilosuchus that seems to be 100% toothy maw and a pair of early rodents resembling fierce, horned guinea pigs dubbed Ceratogaulus. Though largely a gimmick—the chapters are independent, organized internally from early to late, and could be reshuffled into conventional order with little or no adjustment to the narrative—the reverse-time arrangement does afford an unusual angle on just how far deep time extends.

Nothing to roar over but a pleaser for fans of all things big, toothy, and extinct. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-912920-05-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Destined for synagogue and Hebrew school libraries but unlikely to compel young readers.

RBG'S BRAVE & BRILLIANT WOMEN

33 JEWISH WOMEN TO INSPIRE EVERYONE

Short biographies of Jewish women and girls, selected by the author and the late Justice Ginsburg, who also penned the introduction.

Each narrative is about three to five pages long and is preceded by an attractive, stylized, full-color illustration of the subject. Six figures are biblical, one is from the ancient world, and the rest lived during the last 600 years. Their achievements vary: Several are activists or labor organizers, one is an astronaut, some are politicians, others are artists, and one is a Holocaust victim. The prose is serviceable, while the breadth of the brief collection necessitates biographies so shallow that nearly every recorded incident can be found in Wikipedia. The selection contains little diversity; of the post-ancient subjects, all but the three Sephardic subjects are Ashkenazi, and all are White according to contemporary understanding. Though text boxes following each biography indicate their relevance to the modern world, most contain platitudes, and one appropriates for its subject—Yocheved, the mother of Moses, whose sexuality is unknown—a modern tradition aimed at incorporating queer Jews into Jewish ritual. The one truly compelling aspect of this collection is the context offered for why Ginsburg found inspiration in the stories of these women and girls, which provides insight into both the late justice herself and the changing times she lived through.

Destined for synagogue and Hebrew school libraries but unlikely to compel young readers. (Biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-37718-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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