Readers will goggle at the very notion.



The lengths that high-society women in the 1700s would go to for their hairstyles….

Mrs. Muriel Paddington would like to win an award at the Moonlight Ball. After some back and forth with her hairdresser, she decides upon a windmill theme. The next spreads detail the elaborate 3-foot-tall hairpiece’s construction. It includes a wire frame, pillow, and hair extensions “donated” (read: demanded) from her maid. Then there’s the beef-marrow and wax pomade, the pound of flour per week that dusts the creation, and the mixture of sugar water that solidifies the whole thing—no wonder Mrs. Paddington has a problem with mice when she finally gets into bed and tries to sleep (sitting mostly upright with a special pillow). A visit to the Silver Mousetrap Shoppe takes care of the problem, and a pewter headscratcher gives some relief from the insects infesting her hairdo. Readers will likely either be laughing like the commoners on the street or shaking their heads in disbelief that rich grown-ups would actually crawl in and out of a store because they couldn’t fit through the door upright. Cox’s illustrations ably capture the whimsy and creativity of the hairstyles while poking gentle fun at the same time. Mrs. Paddington’s surroundings are suitably opulent, all the people are pale, and the dialogue is aptly stuffy. Occasional sidebars attest to the historicity that underlies the ridiculousness, but there is no explicit parsing of fact from fancy.

Readers will goggle at the very notion. (sources) (Picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63440-900-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Red Chair Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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



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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Plenty of work for sharp eyes and active intellects in this history-based series opener.


From the Spy on History series , Vol. 1

Using a provided packet of helpful tools, readers can search for clues along with a historical spy in the house of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.

Fans of ciphers and hidden clues will find both in abundance, beginning on the copyright page and continuing to a final, sealed-off section of explanations and solutions. Fictionalized but spun around actual figures and events, the tale centers on Bowser, a free African-American who worked undercover as a maid in Davis’ house and passed information to a ring of white Richmond spies. Here she looks for the key phrase that will unlock a Vigenère cipher—an alphabetic substitution code—while struggling to hide her intelligence and ability to read. As an extra challenge, she leaves the diary in which she records some of her experiences concealed for readers to discover, using allusive and sometimes-misleading clues that are hidden in Cliff’s monochrome illustrations and in cryptic marginal notations. A Caesar cipher wheel, a sheet of red acetate, and several other items in a front pocket supply an espionage starter kit that readers can use along the way; it is supplemented by quick introductions in the narrative to ciphers and codes, including Morse dashes and dots and the language of flowers.

Plenty of work for sharp eyes and active intellects in this history-based series opener. (answers, historical notes, biographies, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7611-8739-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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