This uncomplicated narrative of Danish resistance will facilitate teaching and discussion of a difficult yet necessary...

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THE WHISPERING TOWN

Residents of a small town in Nazi-occupied Denmark work together to provide a hidden Jewish mother and son safe passage to neutral Sweden.

“New friends” are being harbored in Anett’s dark basement for two nights. Though afraid, she allows their whispering voices to lead her down the stairs. Anett brings food from her mother’s kitchen and books from the library until the boy and his mother can secretly board a fishing boat that will cross over to Sweden. Most of Anett’s daily encounters with neighbors and shopkeepers show that the townsfolk support Anett’s family in their dangerous effort. When the Nazis begin to search houses each night, the situation becomes even more perilous for Anett’s family, and her father determines that they must be taken to the harbor despite the obscuring clouds. Without moonlight, the Jews are beckoned from door to door, guided only by whispering voices—“This way”—that indicate the route to safety. The direct simplicity of the story’s telling serves well as an introduction for younger children to the Holocaust. Dark cartoon sketches reminiscent of Tomi Ungerer in opaque black, blues, grays and khaki green markers and word bubbles with the key words of direction paint the ominous atmosphere.

This uncomplicated narrative of Danish resistance will facilitate teaching and discussion of a difficult yet necessary subject. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-1194-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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The runt of the litter of print titles and websites covering the topic.

PRESIDENT ADAMS' ALLIGATOR

This tally of presidential pets reads like a school report (for all that the author is a journalist for Fox Business Network) and isn’t helped by its suite of amateurish illustrations.

Barnes frames the story with a teacher talking to her class and closes it with quizzes and a write-on “ballot.” Presidents from Washington to Obama—each paired to mentions of birds, dogs, livestock, wild animals and other White House co-residents—parade past in a rough, usually undated mix of chronological order and topical groupings. The text is laid out in monotonous blocks over thinly colored scenes that pose awkwardly rendered figures against White House floors or green lawns. In evident recognition that the presidents might be hard to tell apart, on some (but not enough) pages they carry identifying banners. The animals aren’t so differentiated; an unnamed goat that William Henry Harrison is pulling along with his cow Sukey in one picture looks a lot like one that belonged to Benjamin Harrison, and in some collective views, it’s hard to tell which animals go with which first family.

The runt of the litter of print titles and websites covering the topic. (bibliography, notes for adult readers) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62157-035-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Patriot Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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THE RIDE

THE LEGEND OF BETSY DOWDY

It’s 1775 and the people of North Carolina want freedom from England’s rule, but “[w]hen sixteen-year-old Betsy Dowdy heard Papa talk about war approaching, she felt as helpless as a ghost crab skittering along the sand.” The legendary Betsy of Currituck (her existence has never been proven) isn’t helpless, though. She promptly saddles up her pony Bess and rides all night—50 miles over hill and dale—to warn General Skinner’s militia about the incoming redcoats. In what may be the most Fauvist depiction of colonial America ever, Priceman’s splendidly untamed gouache-and-ink spreads reflect the menacing inevitability of war with fiery oranges and the red-cloaked Betsy’s phantasmagorical nighttime ride in deep blues and purples. Perspectives are distorted, buildings topsy-turvy, eyes of human and beast are wild and wide—even the sharp-toothed river fish look agitated, as in a crazy nightmare. The muddled story—more odd, atmospheric drama than history lesson—may just end up unsettling readers, though, despite the trumpeting clarity of its made-for-radio-voice refrain: “She couldn’t fight as a soldier. But she could ride.” (stylized map, author’s note) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4169-2816-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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