An excellent homage to an African-American woman who taught ahead of her time.

An unsung hero and literacy champion whose teaching changed many lives.

Halfmann and Ladd tell the remarkable, true story of Lilly Ann Granderson, an enslaved woman born around 1821 in Petersburg, Virginia. Following the death of her mother, Lilly Ann was sold to a Kentucky slave owner. The master’s children would often play school and included Lilly Ann, teaching her to read. They even gave her an “old ragged blue-back speller…to use and keep,” which she used to practice in private and teach others on the plantation. However, when her master died, she was sold to a cotton plantation in Natchez, Mississippi, where it was illegal for slaves to learn to read. Though Lilly Ann faced much higher penalties there in restarting her school, she expanded her education efforts. However, when the patrollers caught her leading her slave school—the punishment for which was 39 lashes—the authorities found “no law against a slave teaching a slave.” This picture book’s detailed, realistic illustrations were created using acrylic paint and colored pencil. Ladd’s artwork shows Lilly Ann’s determination to improve lives through literacy and will also familiarize readers with the book’s historical settings. An informative afterword and bibliography will make this a useful addition to U.S. history lessons.

An excellent homage to an African-American woman who taught ahead of her time. (Picture book/biography. 7-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62014-163-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018




Fans of Terry Deary and Martin Brown’s Horrible Histories and their ilk are unlikely to consider this latest imitation more than an also-ran. Oliver surveys British history from the Isles’ Ice Age formation to the not-exactly-hot-off-the-presses 2005 news that London will host the 2012 Olympics. Though accurate enough in his broad picture, the author’s debatable facts (“…the Romans introduced really useful things such as toilets and even vegetables to the people of Britain”) and awkwardly written generalizations (“The Celtic kings consulted religious advisors to help them rule, known as druids”) drag the bland text down even further. Pinder's pen-and-ink illustrations attempt snark but too often fall flat: “That girl was always getting in my way,” remarks Bloody Mary as Lady Jane Grey’s newly severed head bounces by. This catalog of major British kings, queens, wars, pivotal events and cultural milestones is unlikely to entertain—much less resonate with—American audiences. (index, royal timeline) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-906082-72-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Buster/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2010




Thirteen prominent American men and women are briefly profiled in this collection. Chronologically ranging from Thomas Jefferson to Barack Obama, each entry features an inspiring quote from its subject and a concise explanation of his or her context in history. Opposite each page of text is a watercolor painting by the author depicting an image or montage of the notable individual and illustrating the work they achieved or how they lived. Each one evokes the emotions the book is meant to inspire: courage, strength and determination. Franklin Roosevelt gazes reassuringly out at readers above a line of hungry people at a soup kitchen; Rachel Carson smiles at readers against a picture of a soaring bald eagle and an inset of her peering into a microscope. The selection includes four women and five male ethnic minorities. Almost all are familiar faces in collective biographies, including Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, but some names may be new to young readers, such as Emma Lazarus and Cesar Chavez. Included in the backmatter are thumbnail biographies of each figure and a list of source notes. The profiles are indeed inspiring, and younger readers will likely learn something new. For deeper research, students will have to look elsewhere but could use this book as an excellent starting point. (Collective biography. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8225-6810-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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