A welcome addition to the growing strong-women-in-history shelf.

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PIRATE QUEEN

A STORY OF ZHENG YI SAO

From stolen bride to pirate queen: a young woman’s rise to become the most powerful pirate in history.

When pirate Zheng Yi and his crew raid the port city of Canton, they plunder both goods and women. Zheng Yi picks one girl to be his bride. Boldly, Zheng Yi Sao (meaning “Zheng Yi’s wife”) shoots him a stipulation: She will marry him only “if he [gives her] an equal share in his enterprise.” Six years later, Zheng Yi is dead, and his widow now commands 70,000 men and over 1,800 ships. Zheng Yi Sao realizes that a queen can’t “win at cards” alone. She must “strengthen [her] hand by drawing from [her] decks,” winning the loyalty of Zheng’s lieutenants by sharing power. Before long, South China’s seas come under her control, and even the emperor’s ships are no match for Zheng Yi Sao’s Red Flag Fleet. Eventually, Zheng Yi Sao grows tired of life at sea. With the same defiance and boldness that she employed so long ago, she demands her freedom from the governor-general of Canton. There is little primary documentation about Zheng Yi Sao’s life, as Becker states in a concluding note, but working with what’s known she has woven together a poetic first-person story that’s both believable and readable. Wong’s stylized pencil illustrations highlight intricate details that epitomize turn-of-the-19th-century China, a restrained palette providing color.

A welcome addition to the growing strong-women-in-history shelf. (sources, further references, note on names) (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77306-124-5

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Rappaport makes this long struggle palpable and relevant, while Faulkner adds a winning mix of gravitas and high spirits.

ELIZABETH STARTED ALL THE TROUBLE

Rappaport examines the salient successes and raw setbacks along the 144-year-long road between the nation’s birth and women’s suffrage.

This lively yet forthright narrative pivots on a reality that should startle modern kids: women’s right to vote was only achieved in 1920, 72 years after Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Indeed, time’s passage figures as a textual motif, connecting across decades such determined women as Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucy Stone. They spoke tirelessly, marched, organized, and got arrested. Rappaport includes events such as 1913’s Women’s Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C., but doesn’t shy from divisive periods like the Civil War. Faulkner’s meticulously researched gouache-and-ink illustrations often infuse scenes with humor by playing with size and perspective. As Stanton and Lucretia Mott sail into London in 1840 for the World Anti-Slavery Conference, Faulkner depicts the two women as giants on the ship’s upper deck. On the opposite page, as they learn they’ll be barred as delegates, they’re painted in miniature, dwarfed yet unflappable beneath a gallery full of disapproving men. A final double-page spread mingles such modern stars as Shirley Chisholm and Sonia Sotomayor amid the historical leaders.

Rappaport makes this long struggle palpable and relevant, while Faulkner adds a winning mix of gravitas and high spirits. (biographical thumbnails, chronology, sources, websites, further reading, author’s note) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7868-5142-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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The runt of the litter of print titles and websites covering the topic.

PRESIDENT ADAMS' ALLIGATOR

This tally of presidential pets reads like a school report (for all that the author is a journalist for Fox Business Network) and isn’t helped by its suite of amateurish illustrations.

Barnes frames the story with a teacher talking to her class and closes it with quizzes and a write-on “ballot.” Presidents from Washington to Obama—each paired to mentions of birds, dogs, livestock, wild animals and other White House co-residents—parade past in a rough, usually undated mix of chronological order and topical groupings. The text is laid out in monotonous blocks over thinly colored scenes that pose awkwardly rendered figures against White House floors or green lawns. In evident recognition that the presidents might be hard to tell apart, on some (but not enough) pages they carry identifying banners. The animals aren’t so differentiated; an unnamed goat that William Henry Harrison is pulling along with his cow Sukey in one picture looks a lot like one that belonged to Benjamin Harrison, and in some collective views, it’s hard to tell which animals go with which first family.

The runt of the litter of print titles and websites covering the topic. (bibliography, notes for adult readers) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62157-035-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Patriot Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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