THE YANKEE AT THE SEDER

On the first night of Passover, days after the Civil War has ended, Jacob sits on his porch snacking on a piece of matzoh. When Yankee soldier Myer Levy wanders by and notices him, he wishes Jacob a good holiday and asks if he might share. Surprised and a bit fearful, Jacob runs inside to inform his mother “there’s a...a Yankee Jew outside!” Putting politics and war aside and following Jewish tradition, Jacob’s mother invites Levy to join the family’s seder. Weber’s story is based on true events and explores the paradox and controversy of owning slaves for wealthy Southern Jews. Using the framework of the traditional Four Questions, the narrative ignites a dialogue between Myer and his host, Mr. Josephson, drawing a connection between the holiday’s celebration of freedom from slavery and the underlying cause of the Civil War. The handsome design features decoratively framed text boxes opposite Gustavson’s expressive, realistic oil paintings. Should spark discussion around the seder table and in classrooms of history. (glossary, historical notes) (Picture book/religion. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-58246-256-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2009

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TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS

Fact and fiction dovetail neatly in this tale of a wonderfully resolute child who finds a memorable way to convince her father that the newly-finished Brooklyn Bridge is safe to cross. Having watched the great bridge going up for most of her young life, Hannah is eager to walk it, but despite repeated, fact-laced appeals to reason (and Hannah is a positive fount of information about its materials and design), her father won’t be moved: “No little girl of mine will cross that metal monster!” Hannah finally hatches a far-fetched plan to convince him once and for all; can she persuade the renowned P.T. Barnum to march his corps of elephants across? She can, and does (actually, he was already planning to do it). Pham places Hannah, radiating sturdy confidence, within sepia-toned, exactly rendered period scenes that capture both the grandeur of the bridge in its various stages of construction, and the range of expressions on the faces of onlookers during its opening ceremonies and after. Readers will applaud Hannah’s polite persistence. (afterword, resources) (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-87011-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2004

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THE TRUE GIFT

A CHRISTMAS STORY

Newbery Medalist MacLachlan offers a quietly moving Christmas story that illustrates the power of children to change their world. Lily, the first-person narrator, and her younger brother, Liam, spend every Christmas vacation at their grandparents’ farm. Liam wants to buy a cow as a companion for the family’s pet, White Cow, who seems lonely out in the field by herself. By Christmas Eve, Liam has raised enough money to buy a calf companion, but there is also a Christmas surprise of several cow visitors brought by neighbors to keep White Cow company for the holiday. MacLachlan uses her typical taciturn style featuring dialogue and minimal description to convey the intense feelings of the sensitive little boy trying to accomplish a seemingly impossible task. Floca’s delicate, full-page pencil illustrations complement the text with understated emotion. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9081-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2009

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