Powerful storytelling and immersive art.

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FREEDOM BIRD

A TALE OF HOPE AND COURAGE

Two enslaved children become a legend when they escape the inhumane plantation system.

Siblings John and Millicent (whom some will remember as the mother of Thunder Rose, from the 2003 picture book of the same name, illustrated by Kadir Nelson) toil on Simon Plenty’s plantation as slaves. Their parents were sold away—“I don’t have to tell you the pain this could put on anyone, let alone a child”—but not before they “had sown the seeds of freedom in their children’s minds and hearts.” Samuel and Maggie had told their children that their people could fly and that such a time might come for them. One day, the overseer strikes an unusual, large bird out of the sky. John and Millicent rescue it under cover of night and nurse the creature back to health. Things get more difficult for John and Millicent, as first John is hired out for months at a time, and then it is rumored that he will be sold away. One night, when they are trying to free the bird, the overseer discovers them, and the two children run off, heading west after the bird. Nolen luxuriates in poetic and symbolic language in this satisfying story. The lengthy text, addressed directly to child listeners, frames the tale with historical, cultural, and mythical context that will leave some younger children wondering but nevertheless will hold them spellbound. Ransome’s paintings create memorable scenes that evoke the indomitable human spirit to which the book is a tribute.

Powerful storytelling and immersive art. (author’s note, further reading) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-689-87167-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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THE STONE OF FIRE

From the Cavemice series , Vol. 1

Warp back in time for a prehistoric spinoff adventure with Geronimo Stilton’s ancestor, Geronimo Stiltonoot, in Old Mouse City.

Readers will find Geronimo Stiltonoot a familiar character, outfitted differently from descendant Stilton yet still running a newspaper and having wild adventures. In this introduction to prehistoric mouse life, someone has stolen the most powerful and important artifact housed by the Old Mouse City Mouseum: the Stone of Fire. It’s up to Stiltonoot and his fellow sleuth and friend, Hercule Poirat, to uncover not only the theft, but a dangerous plot that jeopardizes all of Old Mouse City. As stand-ins for the rest of the Stilton cast, Stiltonoot has in common with Stilton a cousin named Trap, a sister named Thea and a nephew named Benjamin. The slapstick comedy and design, busy with type changes and color, will be familiar for Stilton readers. The world is fictionalized for comedic effect, featuring funny uses for dinosaurs and cheeky references to how far back in time they are, with only the occasional sidebar that presents facts. The story takes a bit long to get started, spending a lot of time reiterating the worldbuilding information laid out before the first chapter. But once it does start, it is an adventure Stilton readers will enjoy. Geronimo Stiltonoot has the right combination of familiarity and newness to satisfy Stilton fans. (Fiction. 6-10)

 

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-44774-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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