THE WANIGAN

A LIFE ON THE RIVER

“I will be forced to live in low circumstances,” moans bookish Annabel Lee as she and her mother prepare to follow her father and other lumberjacks down Michigan’s Au Sable River aboard a “wanigan,” or floating kitchen/supply raft, with a winter’s crop of logs. Before the logs drift into Lake Huron three months later, Annabel Lee has slowly become aware of the natural beauties passing on every side, coped with the cooking when her mother falls ill, survived a forest fire and other misadventures, and even reached an accord with the motherless “chore boy” Jimmy. Quoting lines of lugubrious verse at every turn, Annabel Lee (named after a figure from her favorite poet) makes a refreshing narrator reminiscent of Lucy Whipple, though with less stamina, and the author’s picture of logging camps and life in the 1870s makes a vivid backdrop for the adventure. As Annabel Lee departs with her parents for a more settled life in Detroit with barely a backward glance, the trip has more of an episodic feel than a life-changing experience. Still, readers will enjoy meeting this spirited 11-year-old, and may even be tempted to seek out Cornelia Meigs’s Newbery Honor winning Swift River (1932, 1994) for a similarly rousing voyage. (author’s note, illustrations not seen) (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 9, 2002

ISBN: 0-375-81429-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that...

BEN FRANKLIN'S IN MY BATHROOM!

Antics both instructive and embarrassing ensue after a mysterious package left on their doorstep brings a Founding Father into the lives of two modern children.

Summoned somehow by what looks for all the world like an old-time crystal radio set, Ben Franklin turns out to be an amiable sort. He is immediately taken in hand by 7-year-old Olive for a tour of modern wonders—early versions of which many, from electrical appliances in the kitchen to the Illinois town’s public library and fire department, he justly lays claim to inventing. Meanwhile big brother Nolan, 10, tags along, frantic to return him to his own era before either their divorced mom or snoopy classmate Tommy Tuttle sees him. Fleming, author of Ben Franklin’s Almanac (2003) (and also, not uncoincidentally considering the final scene of this outing, Our Eleanor, 2005), mixes history with humor as the great man dispenses aphorisms and reminiscences through diverse misadventures, all of which end well, before vanishing at last. Following a closing, sequel-cueing kicker (see above) she then separates facts from fancies in closing notes, with print and online leads to more of the former. To go with spot illustrations of the evidently all-white cast throughout the narrative, Fearing incorporates change-of-pace sets of sequential panels for Franklin’s biographical and scientific anecdotes. Final illustrations not seen.

It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that adds flavor without weight. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93406-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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A DOCTOR LIKE PAPA

In a brief episode exploring the theme of challenging gender roles that is loosely based on local history, the devastating flu epidemic of 1918 tests a Vermont child’s resolution to become a country doctor like her father. Resisting her mother’s insistence that it’s no job for a woman, Margaret cajoles her father at last into allowing her to accompany him on house calls. She proves an able assistant—but needs all her skills and stomach later that winter when, on the way to a remote relative’s with her little brother, she comes upon a farmhouse with a nearly dead dog outside, and inside only a small child shivering among the bodies of her stricken family. In a quick final chapter, Margaret grows up to achieve her heart’s desire, and even to see her own little daughter show early signs of continuing the family profession. Kinsey-Warnock (Lumber Camp Library, below, etc.) folds in a subplot involving a beloved uncle who comes back from the war deeply depressed and minus an arm, slips in a snippet about Elizabeth Blackwell for further role-modeling, and closes with a historical note. Young readers will be engrossed, following this plucky but vulnerable child through a time of hardship and widespread tragedy. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-029319-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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