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

JARS OF HOPE

HOW ONE WOMAN HELPED SAVE 2,500 CHILDREN DURING THE HOLOCAUST

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 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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

WHAT IF YOU MET A COWBOY?

From the What If You Met… series

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 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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A visually striking, compelling recollection.

FROM THE TOPS OF THE TREES

The author recounts a formative childhood experience that continues to inspire her today.

Born to Hmong refugees, Kalia has only ever known the confines of the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand. Even while playing with her cousins, reminders of the hardships of their life are always present. She overhears the aunties sharing their uncertainty and fear of the future. They are a people with no home country and are still trying to find peace. Kalia asks her father why they live behind a gate and wonders what lies beyond the fences that surround the camp. The next day they climb a tall tree, and he shows her the vast expanse around them, from familiar camp landmarks to distant mountains “where the sky meets earth.” This story of resilience and generational hope is told in an expressive, straightforward narrative style. The simplicity of the text adds a level of poignancy that moves readers to reflection. The layered and heavily textured illustrations complement the text while highlighting the humanity of the refugees and providing a quiet dignity to camp life. The militarylike color palette of olive greens, golden yellows, and rich browns reinforces the guarded atmosphere but also represents the transitional period from winter to spring, a time ripe with anticipation and promise.

A visually striking, compelling recollection. (author's note, glossary, map.) (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8130-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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A visually striking and spirited but extremely brief look at the lead up to the Han dynasty.

AMBUSH

Two kingdoms battle for control in ancient China.

Approximately 2,000 years ago, China was divided into many warlord-led kingdoms after the fall of the Qin Empire. Two kingdoms emerged as formidable forces: the Chu Kingdom and the Han Kingdom. Years of fighting erupt when the Han Kingdom, ruled by Liu Bang, attacks. Xiang Yu, the Chu Kingdom’s ruler, furiously leads his troops against Liu Bang’s army, but the latter’s superior tactics exhaust the Chu forces. Numbers dwindle, and emotions are tested. In the face of the impending Han victory, Xiang Yu resolutely takes his last stand. The text is sparing with dates and specific locations, and readers will need to pursue other resources for historical context and timeline information. Yu, however, effectively presents a weighty account of the power struggle, particularly Xiang Yu’s “fearless[ness]” in defeat. Illustrations capture the intensity of battle strategy as double-page spreads engulf readers in the action. Faces and body language are expressive, and perspective and angle often highlight the emotional toll of battle. Yu’s illustrations appear to combine traditional paper-cutting techniques with watercolor and ink painting. Occasional elements, such as a crane and tree branches, break the confines of panels.

A visually striking and spirited but extremely brief look at the lead up to the Han dynasty. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-6938-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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