THE RED SASH

Offering a glimpse into the early years of the Canadian fur trade, this tale of a young Métis’s coming-of-age is driven as much by its historical detail as by plot. While waiting for his father, a voyageur, or guide, to return to Fort William for the great summer gathering of traders called the Rendezvous, the narrator helps rescue a “gentleman,” whose canoe is damaged in a squall, and so earns the coveted red sash that marks him too as a voyageur. Meanwhile, Debon’s precisely drawn aerial view of the fort and broadly brushed scenes of Europeans and native residents in period costume fill in the setting. Supplemented by a long note, a glossary and a map, the episode comes off as purposeful, but there’s enough drama to rescue it from aridity. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-88899-589-X

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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PRAIRIE TRAIN

As the Great Northern chugs its way to St. Paul, past fields “stitched together / in brown and yellow patches, / like Grandma’s quilt spread over the hills,” a lone child in her Sunday Best gazes happily out the windows, takes a meal in the dining car (surreptitiously dropping sugar cubes into her wallet as mementos), makes friends with those seated around her when the train is temporarily halted by a snowdrift, then steps off at last, and into her grandmother’s arms. Thompson places the ride in the 1920s or ’30s, depicting passengers and elegant interiors with photorealistic sharpness, then backing off to show the big train steaming its way through towns and over rolling prairie. Despite occasional anxious moments, the generally buoyant tone of this individual odyssey will reassure prospective young travelers, and trainiacs will pore over the period details. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-688-13433-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2003

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UNITE OR DIE

HOW THIRTEEN STATES BECAME A NATION

Memorable for the contrast between the melodramatic title and Czekaj’s funny cartoon scenes of popeyed children putting on a low-budget stage play, this account of our Constitutional Convention should leave even less attentive readers with some idea of what the resultant document is all about. The curtain rises on players in state-shaped costumes running around shouting “Hooray! Freedom!” In subsequent scenes they fall to squabbling (“I know what’s best for me”) under the weak Articles of Confederation, recognize the need for change and gather (all but Rhode Island, that is) in sweltering Philadelphia for long, secret negotiations—nearly failing to reach consensus until Connecticut proposes the Great Compromise over the nature of the two legislative houses. “Who will be the first to sign? George Washington, of course!” A lively way to kick off discussions of how the Constitution works and why it’s still a living document, especially with readers too young to tackle Jean Fritz’s Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution (1987). (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-58089-189-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2009

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