Readers will goggle at the very notion.

MRS. PADDINGTON AND THE SILVER MOUSETRAPS

A HAIR-RAISING HISTORY OF WOMEN'S HAIRSTYLES IN 18TH-CENTURY LONDON

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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A well-crafted, feline-centric Franklin tale for young readers.

THE ONLY TRUE BIOGRAPHY OF BEN FRANKLIN BY HIS CAT, MISSY HOOPER

In this children’s novel, Benjamin Franklin’s cat tells the real stories behind the man’s greatest accomplishments.

No one knows a man like his cat. That’s the premise behind this portrait of America’s most colorful Founding Father, as related by his black-and-white cat, Missy Hooper. “Dr. Franklin and I worked together for a great many years,” demures Missy in the book’s foreword. “I taught him many things he didn’t know. He taught me many things, some of which I didn’t know and some of which I forgot I knew. Together we changed the course of history.” Missy meets Ben when he is just a 23-year-old printer’s assistant. He’s never met a cat who could speak before, and she immediately becomes a source of inspiration for his signature aphorisms. With Missy’s help, Ben soon starts founding institutions—a library, a hospital, a fire department—and developing inventions. Missy even witnesses Ben discover electricity. But their greatest collaborations begin decades later (Missy’s breed of cat can live for nearly a century) when Ben takes up the cause of American liberty. In fact, to hear Missy tell it, if it wasn’t for her (and Ben), the United States of America never would have existed. Written in Missy’s voice, the prose is sassy and humorous, building up the cat at the expense of her owner: “Too many buttery sauces and too much caviar and goose liver paste. Both Ben and I had put on a lot of weight. I carried it well. With all my fur you could barely tell I’d put on any weight at all.” The enjoyable tale is accompanied by stylish, uncredited black-and-white illustrations as well as a glossary of words in Cattish (the language in which the book claims to have been originally written). The jokes largely fit in with the humor one associates with cat owners (for example, felines are adorable divas with an inflated sense of their own importance), but Greenburg manages to blend this perspective effectively with Franklin’s unusual life story. Young readers who come for the cat material will learn a lot about this famous figure, and if what Missy has to say about the Feline Historical Society is true, there may be more cat-authored biographies in the future.

A well-crafted, feline-centric Franklin tale for young readers.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63411-010-5

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Thunderstone Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Reluctant historians may find Virgil's "ghostory" appealing.

HAUNTED HISTORIES

CREEPY CASTLES, DARK DUNGEONS, AND POWERFUL PALACES

History is more haunted than readers may think.

Disney might have some believing that castles are clean, pink and full of unicorn tapestries. But Virgil Dante, youngest Master Ghostorian in London, is here to disabuse readers of that notion, ostensibly with the help of his raven, Thor, and a passel of ghosts. They tour history with the assistance of a cursed pocket watch and look in on castles, dungeons, palaces and graveyards. Here and there, they learn a thing or two from a “real” ghost from the locale and time period they are visiting. More often, Virgil just lectures in a colloquial narrative voice or offers maps, lists and diagrams of horrible places and things in world history. The usual suspects get the eye: The Tower of London and the Bastille figure prominently, but there are also lesser-known nests of nastiness like Himeji Castle in Japan and Castle Neuschwanstein in Bavaria. Everett and Scott-Waters have put together an instructive, amusing-enough gross-and-horrible history title. However, it feels a bit scattered, and the ghosts are few and far between. Abundant black-and-white illustrations are grisly and spooky enough to hold interest.

Reluctant historians may find Virgil's "ghostory" appealing. (timeline, maps, resources) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8971-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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