A broadly inclusive invitation to crawl over our country’s history, natural and otherwise…and maybe dig a little deeper.




An oversized board book with an animal, vehicle, food, activity, and local celebration for each state—capped by a jigsaw-puzzle map.

The first five double-page spreads are laid out as brightly colored alphabetical grids, with a single fact and explanatory comment, plus accompanying cartoon image, in each state’s assigned box. Rather than go with “official” selections, Balkan makes her own: the opening gallery of wildlife, for instance, begins with bottlenose dolphin for Alabama (“These social animals can be found in Perdido Bay”), closes with moose for Wyoming, and in between highlights creatures including the Highland cow for Minnesota, the “rare and sacred” white buffalo for North Dakota, and the great white shark for New Jersey. Along with a proper note that many of these animals are found in other states too, Balkan challenges viewers to pick out the ones that fly, that swim, and that are legendary or extinct. From there it’s on to “50 Things That Go,” 50 foodstuffs (including “tagine treats” for Maryland), 50 ways to “Get Moving,” and festivals—many with immigrant or Native American connections (the selection of Georgia’s Uncle Remus Museum in this last category is something of a misstep). The easy-peasy jigsaw of all the states together is both laid down over a labeled image and comes with a visual key showing the states' silhouettes.

A broadly inclusive invitation to crawl over our country’s history, natural and otherwise…and maybe dig a little deeper. (Novelty board book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84780-869-1

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Successful neither as biography nor sermon.


From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Our 16th president is presented as an activist for human and civil rights.

Lincoln resembles a doll with an oversized head as he strides through a first-person narrative that stretches the limits of credulity and usefulness. From childhood, Abe, bearded and sporting a stovepipe hat, loves to read, write and look out for animals. He stands up to bullies, noting that “the hardest fights don’t reveal a winner—but they do reveal character.” He sees slaves, and the sight haunts him. When the Civil War begins, he calls it a struggle to end slavery. Not accurate. The text further calls the Gettysburg ceremonies a “big event” designed to “reenergize” Union supporters and states that the Emancipation Proclamation “freed all those people.” Not accurate. The account concludes with a homily to “speak louder then you’ve ever spoken before,” as Lincoln holds the Proclamation in his hands. Eliopoulos’ comic-style digital art uses speech bubbles for conversational asides. A double-page spread depicts Lincoln, Confederate soldiers, Union soldiers, white folk and African-American folk walking arm in arm: an anachronistic reference to civil rights–era protest marches? An unsourced quotation from Lincoln may not actually be Lincoln’s words.

Successful neither as biography nor sermon. (photographs, archival illustration) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4083-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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An inspirational must-read for budding scientists and those who teach them.



Slade and Lanan bring the biography of scientist Anna Comstock to young readers.

A true story about an early champion of nature education, this beautifully illustrated watercolor picture book introduces young readers to Anna Botsford Comstock, a white woman born in 1854. At a time when girls were expected to get married, then stick close to home and take care of their families, Anna’s “heart belonged to her first love—nature.” She attended Cornell University to study entomology and also honed her artistic craft in drawing insects. Anna Comstock insisted that New York state integrate nature study into classroom lessons and allow children to experience nature while in school. “People thought she was crazy. Didn’t she know school rules? Students learn inside. Students play outside!” But eventually, Anna’s ideas prevailed, and science and nature remain vital aspects of American education today, in part because of Anna’s early advocacy. The story opens with a barefoot Anna sitting on a fallen log, dipping her toes into the water, and it ends with Anna as an old woman, perched on that same log with her feet and the bottom of her skirt dangling in the water. Quotes from her writing augment the illustrations in a complementary display type. The informative backmatter fills in more details about the life and accomplishments of this naturalist, writer, scholar, and forward-thinking female pioneer.

An inspirational must-read for budding scientists and those who teach them. (notes, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58536-9-867

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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