A succinct, edifying read, but don’t buy it for the pictures.

LONG, TALL LINCOLN

Abraham Lincoln’s ascent to the presidency is recounted in a fluid, easy-to-read biography for early readers.

Simple, direct sentences stress Lincoln’s humble upbringing, his honesty, and his devotion to acting with moral conviction. “Lincoln didn’t seem like a man who would be president one day. But he studied hard and became a lawyer. He cared about people and about justice.” Slavery and Lincoln’s signature achievement of emancipation are explained in broad yet defined, understandable analogies. “At that time, in the South, the law let white people own black people, just as they owned a house or a horse.” Readers are clearly given the president’s perspective through some documented memorable quotes from his own letters. “Lincoln did not like slavery. ‘If slavery is not wrong,’ he wrote to a friend ‘nothing is wrong.’ ” (The text does not clarify that this letter was written in 1865 and not before he ascended to the presidency, as implied by the book.) As the war goes on and Lincoln makes his decision to free the slaves in the “Southern states”—“a bold move”—Lincoln’s own words describe his thinking: “ ‘If my name ever goes into history,’ Lincoln said, ‘it will be for this act.’ ” A very basic timeline, which mentions the assassination unaddressed in the text, is followed by backmatter providing photographs, slightly more detailed historical information, and legacy. It’s a pity that the text is accompanied by unremarkable, rudimentary opaque paintings.

A succinct, edifying read, but don’t buy it for the pictures. (Informational early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-243256-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Parks’ photography gave a powerful and memorable face to racism in America; this book gives him to young readers.

GORDON PARKS

HOW THE PHOTOGRAPHER CAPTURED BLACK AND WHITE AMERICA

He aimed his camera lens at fashion models and at struggling African-American workers.

Parks, a talented and multifaceted man, was born in the Midwest in 1915 and attended a school where the white teacher told the black students that they would “all end up porters and waiters.” But Parks, at 25, was inspired by a magazine article and spent $7.50 on a used camera. He went on to work in Washington, D.C., for the Farm Security Administration, capturing pictures of African-Americans in their everyday lives—not the white men of the monuments. Famously, he portrayed a cleaning lady name Ella Watson in a portrait that became known as his American Gothic. Echoing the farmers in Grant Woods’ painting, Watson posed in front of an American flag with a broom in one hand and a mop in the other. Weatherford writes in the present tense with intensity, carefully choosing words that concisely evoke the man. Christoph’s digitally rendered illustrations brilliantly present Parks’ world through strong linear images and montages of his photographs. One double-page spread hauntingly portrays run-down buildings with the Capitol Dome hovering in the distance.

Parks’ photography gave a powerful and memorable face to racism in America; this book gives him to young readers. (afterword, author’s note, photographs) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3017-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Despite the book’s clarity, many young listeners still may not understand the enormity of the enterprise or its importance...

HENRY AND THE CANNONS

AN EXTRAORDINARY TRUE STORY OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

Brown brings to life a complex undertaking that had important repercussions, though his early-elementary audience may not be quite ready for it.

The book’s trajectory is clearly laid out: A simple map traces an almost-300-mile path through the wilderness from Fort Ticonderoga in New York to Boston. The first line draws readers firmly into the past—“It was the winter of 1775”—and defines the problem: British soldiers occupy Boston, and the Americans have no way to dislodge them. Despite the seeming impossibility of transporting heavy cannons over snowy roads, across icy lakes and through forbidding forests, young Henry Knox, a bookseller and militia member, volunteered to get the job done. As he has in other informational picture books, Brown uses a variety of page layouts, including some sequential panels, to convey the action. Cool blues and icy whites evoke the wintry landscape; figures and faces are loosely drawn but ably express emotion and determination. Likewise, the brief text employs lyrical language to both get the basic facts across and communicate the feelings and experiences of Henry and his band of hardy helpers. Children intrigued by Brown’s succinct summary will want to follow up with Anita Silvey’s Henry Knox: Bookseller, Solider, Patriot, illustrated by Wendell Minor (2010).

Despite the book’s clarity, many young listeners still may not understand the enormity of the enterprise or its importance in U.S. history (bibliography) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59643-266-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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