Washington remains an historic hero despite flaws and defeats. These are recounted in far more accomplished biographies, and...

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GEORGE

GEORGE WASHINGTON, OUR FOUNDING FATHER

From the Mount Rushmore series

By the age of 15, George Washington had written out a list of precepts taught to him by his teachers, the “Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation,” by which he lived and was guided throughout his life.

Excerpts from this little-known historical document appear throughout this stolid picture-book biography of our first president, in which Washington describes some salient details of his life and career in the first person. The rules are worthy, but readers will note that there is usually no relationship between them and the facts presented on the same page. While the volume is stirring, there is no cohesion to the narrative, and it will not even serve report writers, as most dates and events go unmentioned, as do many highlights of Washington’s story. Only the notes to the artwork provide some factual context. Young readers wondering if Washington ever faced any setbacks will find no evidence of them here. What emerges from these pages is a larger-than-life icon with no warts. Wimmer’s paintings are masterful and dramatic, though some seem stiffly posed. The cover portrait is certainly rousing.

Washington remains an historic hero despite flaws and defeats. These are recounted in far more accomplished biographies, and children will be better served by reading about the real man elsewhere. (author’s note, artist’s note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 8-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4169-5482-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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MY HAVANA

MEMORIES OF A CUBAN BOYHOOD

Mirroring the career he eventually entered, architect Fernandez builds up, like one of Havana’s ornate structures, memories of childhood in his pre- and post-Castro hometown. A gifted illustrator, he drew constantly, easily rendering even minute architectural details. Before emigrating to New York City, young “Dino” and his family moved first to Madrid to assist relatives. Discovering a dictatorship that wasn’t much different from the one they’d left in Cuba, the family returned home and then finally moved to the United States. Havana was never far from his mind, and art brought solace. So homesick was Dino in Manhattan that he actually “built” a cardboard replica of Havana that captured the colors and warmth he remembered. This fictionalized memoir is for the contemplative reader and anyone who has felt out of place or yearned for a beloved home; it could serve as a catalyst for creative expression. Wells has chosen anecdotes wisely, and Ferguson’s illustrations are atmospheric, capturing Dino’s childlike enthusiasm and longing. An author’s note reveals how Wells came to know of and be inspired by Fernandez’s story. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4305-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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These short pieces may start young people on the search for more information about these intriguing figures.

LADIES OF LIBERTY

THE WOMEN WHO SHAPED OUR NATION

Highlighting women writers, educators, and reformers from the 18th and early 19th centuries, Roberts brings a group of women, many not so well-known, into focus and provides a new perspective on the early history of the United States in this picture-book version of her adult book of the same title (2008).

The women include Lucy Terry Prince, a persuasive speaker who created the first poem (an oral piece not written down for over 100 years after its creation) by an African-American; Elizabeth Bayley Seton, the first American-born saint and the founder of Catholic institutions including schools, hospitals, and orphanages; and Rebecca Gratz, a young philanthropist who started many organizations to help the Jewish community in Philadelphia. The author usually uses some quotes from primary-source materials and enlivens her text with descriptive events, such as Meriweather Lewis’ citation of Sacagawea’s “equal fortitude” with the males of the exploration party during a storm, saving many supplies when their boat capsized. The sepia-hued pen-and-ink drawings are inspired by the letters of the era, and the soft watercolor portraits of the women and the paintings that reveal more of their stories are traditional in feeling. In her introduction, the author emphasizes the importance of historical materials, such as letters, organizational records, journals, and books written at the time. Despite this, there is no bibliography or other means of sourcing quoted material.

These short pieces may start young people on the search for more information about these intriguing figures. (Informational picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-078005-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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