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From the What If You Met… series

As Wild Bill Hickok “says” in his blurb: “Factual as far as it goes.” (glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Following other books in the What if You Met…(a Pirate, 2004; a Knight, 2006) series, this title somewhat less successfully tackles the subject of cowboys.

The image of the handsome cowboy idealized in movies, “on the lookout for pretty schoolteachers and Indians on the warpath,” is shattered by Jacob McHugh Peavey, the “real deal,” unwashed and unshaven. Only careful readers will determine that Jake’s heyday was around 1860-1885. He’s white, although Adkins notes that “[a]bout half of [cowboys] are African-American, Indian, or Hispanic.” Cowgirls are dismissed in a side note. Given this limited perspective, youngsters interested in diversity in the Wild West will want to look elsewhere. Those not familiar with the history of Native Americans may require a source to understand potentially confusing descriptions of Franciscan missionaries who introduced horses in the Southwest as “relatively gentle and patient” conquerors who received an assist from European diseases or the “hostile native” tribes or youth that may on occasion pose a threat to Jake. (Source notes—a list of titles consulted—are provided, but there are no specific citations.) However, children enamored of cowboy gear and cattle drives will find a plethora of information about and detailed illustrations of saddles, guns, brands, the chuck wagon and more, each topic covered in one or two pages.

As Wild Bill Hickok “says” in his blurb: “Factual as far as it goes.” (glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59643-149-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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A sensitive, discussable access point for children learning about Holocaust history.

The brave work of Irena Sendler, one of the righteous gentiles of World War II, is succinctly depicted in this new picture book.

“There are two kinds of people in this world, good and bad.” As a child, wise words from her father gave Irena a guiding principle to live by and prompted the adult Sendler to find ways to save 2,500 innocent Jewish children and babies from the horror of their Holocaust fate. She worked with a network of smugglers and shelters to hide them in carpentry boxes, vegetable sacks, and laundry piles, transporting them to orphanages and the homes of willing Christian foster families, recording the children’s names so they could be found later and burying her lists in the titular jars. And when she herself was imprisoned by the Nazis, Zegota, the Polish resistance group, bribed guards to free her so she could continue her important work. Digital and traditional art in opaque dark browns and grays illustrates the sinister period and shadowy existence of these saved children. Roy’s chronological narrative concentrates on the period from 1940 to 1944 and stresses Sendler’s heroism; it also includes invented scenes and dialogue, marking it as fiction.

A sensitive, discussable access point for children learning about Holocaust history. (afterword, author’s note, glossary, index, source notes) (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62370-425-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Fine viewing, but more of an art exhibit than a systematic family history.

Recently discovered hints that most dinosaurs may have been feathered cap a gallery of prehistoric predecessors to today’s birds.

The presentation has more of a cobbled-together feel than Guiberson’s previous look at the deep past, The Greatest Dinosaur Ever (illustrated by Gennady Spirin, 2013). Despite the title, the book goes beyond feathers. Guiberson discusses how the colors of fossilized feathers can be deduced from the shapes of their microscopic melanosomes, but she also describes early appearances of other avian features such as wishbones and a two-legged stance. But that anatomical focus doesn’t extend to the illustrations, as in the dimly lit paintings, dinosaurs loom indistinctly, their colors muted and limbs tightly folded or otherwise angled so that structural details are hard to make out. Eoalulavis appears only as a few tiny figures winging past a pair of immense sauropods, and the towering ornithischian confronting a modern ostrich on the final spread isn’t identified at all. The portraits are arranged in rough chronological order, but there are no clues in text or pictures to the dinosaurs’ specific eras. Despite a reference to the “teeny wings” of Hesperornis and a few other breaks in tone, the author’s commentary is otherwise solid…until its grand but insupportable closing claim that birds now inhabit “every environment on Earth.”

Fine viewing, but more of an art exhibit than a systematic family history. (bibliography) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9828-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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