More than a distinctive introduction to Albert Einstein, this book promotes both understanding of difference and scientific...

ALBIE'S FIRST WORD

A TALE INSPIRED BY ALBERT EINSTEIN'S CHILDHOOD

The fact that Albert Einstein uttered his first words later in life than most children inspired this quirky, endearing tribute to the famous scientist and humanitarian.

“Albie, as everyone called Albert, liked to do all the things other children did.” This sentence floats in white space above an intriguing piece of artwork, nicely framed within an oval shape: In muted tones of amber, a boy clad in 19th-century clothes is leaping over black-and-white tiles and then over a threshold into a just-barely-seen, brighter room. The artwork’s subliminal message compels readers to turn the page. Thereafter, the text intersperses its tale of a mute little boy with nuggets of historical and cultural reality describing the lives of the German upper middle class in the late 1800s. There are even some German words. The simple story is told with heart, suspense and gentle humor. The complementary artwork features appropriately detailed backgrounds and beautiful chiaroscuro juxtaposed with an Albie whose body exhibits exaggerated toddler proportions and whose face looks modeled in clay. Readers of all ages will enjoy the wise and witty climax, and older readers will appreciate the endpapers—reproduced from Einstein’s “Zürich Notebook”—and the thoughtful author’s note.

More than a distinctive introduction to Albert Einstein, this book promotes both understanding of difference and scientific curiosity. (glossary, photograph) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-307-97893-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance.

MUMBET'S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

With the words of Massachusetts colonial rebels ringing in her ears, a slave determines to win her freedom.

In 1780, Mumbet heard the words of the new Massachusetts constitution, including its declaration of freedom and equality. With the help of a young lawyer, she went to court and the following year, won her freedom, becoming Elizabeth Freeman. Slavery was declared illegal and subsequently outlawed in the state. Woelfle writes with fervor as she describes Mumbet’s life in the household of John Ashley, a rich landowner and businessman who hosted protest meetings against British taxation. His wife was abrasive and abusive, striking out with a coal shovel at a young girl, possibly Mumbet’s daughter. Mumbet deflected the blow and regarded the wound as “her badge of bravery.” Ironically, the lawyer who took her case, Theodore Sedgwick, had attended John Ashley’s meetings. Delinois’ full-bleed paintings are heroic in scale, richly textured and vibrant. Typography becomes part of the page design as the font increases when the text mentions freedom. Another slave in the Ashley household was named in the court case, but Woelfle, keeping her young audience in mind, keeps it simple, wisely focusing on Mumbet.

A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance. (author’s note, selected bibliography, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6589-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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A beautiful portrayal of a historic and arduous family journey northward

OVERGROUND RAILROAD

One family’s experience of the Great Migration.

Cline-Ransome and Ransome, a husband-and-wife author-and-illustrator team, have again collaborated on an important story from African American history. Narrator Ruth Ellen, Mama, and Daddy awaken early to travel to New York without the permission or knowledge of the landowner on whose land they sharecrop. (The author’s note mentions that landowners often used threats and violence to keep sharecroppers on the land and perpetually in debt.) The family boards the train with luggage, tickets, and food in a shoebox—since black folks cannot eat in the dining car and must sit in the colored section of the train. The conductor calls out the cities as they progress North. When the conductor removes the “whites only” sign near Baltimore, African Americans can sit wherever they want—though it takes some time before Ruth Ellen and her family find white riders who smile a welcome. Ruth Ellen reads Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass aloud to Mama on the train ride, a gift from her teacher that parallels her own family’s journey. Ransome’s watercolor-and-collage illustrations effectively capture both the historical setting and the trepidation of a family who though not enslaved, nevertheless must escape as if they were. Cotton bolls throughout the images accentuate cotton’s economic dominance in the sharecropping system.

A beautiful portrayal of a historic and arduous family journey northward . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3873-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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