This story will take away, and immediately restore, readers’ belief in miracles.


Anyone looking for a definition of “miracle” could look to this picture book.

The miracle Nicanor witnesses couldn’t be more straightforward. He’s hired the finest artisans to build a gate for the Temple in Jerusalem, two colossal doors made of metal. But as soon as they’re placed on a transport ship, a storm begins. It sinks one of the doors—and very nearly the ship—to the bottom of the sea. But just as the precious cargo seems to be lost, the law of gravity appears to reverse itself, and the door is suddenly floating on top of the water. It would be difficult to find a clearer example of deus ex machina. But if the plot is unsurprising (at least to people who believe in miracles), the story still manages to convey a sense of wonder. This is due largely to Massari’s illustrations. The text describes the doors: “cast from Corninthian gold, a rare mixture of copper, gold, and silver that gleamed like the sun.” The colors in her pictures are so rich that the metal really does look like gold. (The characters’ skin tones are equally rich and varied shades of brown.) The marvels also contrast beautifully with the bleakness of the story. When hope seems lost, one character responds with both faith and resignation: “We do what we can. The rest is in God’s hands.” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.75-by-20.5-inch double-page spreads viewed at 83% of actual size.)

This story will take away, and immediately restore, readers’ belief in miracles. (Picture book/religion. 4-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7452-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A lovely, tender reimagining of people in a long-past time and place.


A large white house situated in farm fields and gardens is home to a large, loving family.

Twelve active, light-skinned children play, do their chores, and occasionally make mischief. Their growth is measured with marks on a wall for all to see. They sleep, read, giggle, and share secrets and dreams in dormitorylike rooms. The children grow up and leave for school and jobs and families of their own. When the youngest child, now quite old, leaves for the last time, the farmhouse is abandoned and sinks into disrepair. But the tale doesn’t end there. Brief rhythmic lines and a bit of playful rhyme list the day-to-day events and describe the children’s imaginings and dreams. The text is set within light beige panels amid double-page spreads of bright, colorful, layered illustrations that add depth, detail, and emotional connection. In a delightful surprise twist, Blackall becomes part of the tale, addressing readers directly, telling how she discovered this derelict farmhouse, collected the bits and pieces left behind, and used them to create the illustrations for the book they are holding in the hope that not only will the family’s story live on, but so might the stories these young readers will tell someday. Information about the actual family, as well as photos of the house and further details regarding Blackall’s process, appears in an author’s note. (This picture book was reviewed digitally.)

A lovely, tender reimagining of people in a long-past time and place. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-52894-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance.


With the words of Massachusetts colonial rebels ringing in her ears, a slave determines to win her freedom.

In 1780, Mumbet heard the words of the new Massachusetts constitution, including its declaration of freedom and equality. With the help of a young lawyer, she went to court and the following year, won her freedom, becoming Elizabeth Freeman. Slavery was declared illegal and subsequently outlawed in the state. Woelfle writes with fervor as she describes Mumbet’s life in the household of John Ashley, a rich landowner and businessman who hosted protest meetings against British taxation. His wife was abrasive and abusive, striking out with a coal shovel at a young girl, possibly Mumbet’s daughter. Mumbet deflected the blow and regarded the wound as “her badge of bravery.” Ironically, the lawyer who took her case, Theodore Sedgwick, had attended John Ashley’s meetings. Delinois’ full-bleed paintings are heroic in scale, richly textured and vibrant. Typography becomes part of the page design as the font increases when the text mentions freedom. Another slave in the Ashley household was named in the court case, but Woelfle, keeping her young audience in mind, keeps it simple, wisely focusing on Mumbet.

A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance. (author’s note, selected bibliography, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6589-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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