Geography and economics come together in Howard’s (William’s House, 2001, etc.) multicultural story of a young woman from Bangladesh. Sufiya is desperately poor—she begs rice from her neighbors each day and sleeps on the floor of her brother’s house. But when she takes the advice of a villager and attends a bank meeting, she sees her chance to change things. Sufiya and four friends learn how to get a loan, start a business, and support each other. The five decide on their businesses—selling bangles, milk, soap, snacks, and saris—and then must learn to write their names from Rokeya, the only one of the five who can write. Finally, all the women must be able to recite the rules of the bank, which emphasize saving, investing, health, education, and cooperation. During their meeting with the bank manager, they are given their loans and learn about interest rates and the terms of the repayment. Each of the women finds that the bank rules help them invest and save wisely. They are able to improve their lives, expand their businesses, and repay their loans. Sufiya’s story is followed by a question-and-answer section that identifies the story’s setting, gives more detail about the food and money featured in the book, shows readers how both the bank and Sufiya can profit from this arrangement, and presents information about the actual Grameen Bank and its founder. While the story of Sufiya and her four friends may be a bit too optimistic about the ease of changing poverty, it does present readers with solid information about the way loans work. Lively watercolors wonderfully depict the village Sufiya lives in. Vibrant-colored saris clothe the women, woven mats cover the floors of the simple grass huts, and the marketplace is filled with people, animals, stalls, and wares for sale. A good addition to an elementary economics curriculum. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7613-1902-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2002

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A crisp historical vignette.



A boy experiences the Boston Tea Party, the response to the Intolerable Acts, and the battle at Breed’s Hill in Charlestown.

Philbrick has taken his Bunker Hill (2013), pulled from its 400 pages the pivotal moments, added a 12-year-old white boy—Benjamin Russell—as the pivot, and crafted a tale of what might have happened to him during those days of unrest in Boston from 1773 to 1775 (Russell was a real person). Philbrick explains, in plainspoken but gradually accelerating language, the tea tax, the Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, and the quartering of troops in Boston as well as the institution of a military government. Into this ferment, he introduces Benjamin Russell, where he went to school, his part-time apprenticeship at Isaiah Thomas’ newspaper, sledding down Beacon Hill, and the British officer who cleaned the cinders from the snow so the boys could sled farther and farther. It is these humanizing touches that make war its own intolerable act. Readers see Benjamin, courtesy of Minor’s misty gouache-and-watercolor tableaux, as he becomes stranded outside Boston Neck and becomes a clerk for the patriots. Significant characters are introduced, as is the geography of pre-landfilled Boston, to gain a good sense of why certain actions took place where they did. The final encounter at Breed’s Hill demonstrates how a battle can be won by retreating.

A crisp historical vignette. (maps, author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Historical fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16674-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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There’s no doubt about Aldrin’s passion for his subject nor his very specialized firsthand knowledge. And as always Minor’s paintings are attractive and detailed. Still this follow-up to Reaching for the Moon (2005) feels like an unnecessary addendum rather than a useful and intriguing supplement. The author offers an overview of space exploration, beginning with the contributions of Copernicus, Galileo and Newton and segueing into the work of the Wright brothers, Edwin Hubble and Robert Goddard. Brief descriptions of various NASA missions follow. His personal commentary offers a unique twist, but the brevity of the presentation—a double-page spread for each topic, the first few featuring multiple individuals—may leave readers feeling confused and overwhelmed rather than enlightened. A timeline helps to sort out the sequence of events, and its thumbnail illustrations serve as a sort of visual index, but even here there appears to be too much information squeezed into too small a space. More inspirational than informational, this may please aspiring space explorers but has the potential to leave many listeners in the dark. (Nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-24721-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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