A surface-level introduction.




The story of the flag that inspired the national anthem, from its commissioning through its construction by Mary Pickersgill to its current place at the Smithsonian.

Though the subtitle and cover feature Mary Pickersgill, Hartland’s book is really about the flag itself. The story covers how America came to be at war, how Pickersgill’s shop came to sew the flag, how Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and how the flag was preserved and is currently displayed. Hartland’s gouache, folk-art–style illustrations provide a nice amount of detail, with much for readers to linger over and admire, though the playful pennant advertising crabcakes is likely anachronistic. Working to make the book accessible to readers, Hartland takes great care to explain why flags were so important in a time before telephones, but she fails to provide context as to why sewing a large flag would take such an effort. Though she is unnamed, close readers of history will appreciate the inclusion of the white woman’s oft-excluded indentured black servant, Grace Wisher. (Pickersgill’s history as a slave owner goes unmentioned, however). Perhaps the most fascinating part of the book is what actually happened to the flag after the war, and a lovely two-page spread outlines the process in a series of paneled illustrations.

A surface-level introduction. (author’s note, source notes, bibliography, further reading, timeline.) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0233-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of...


A 50th-anniversary commemoration of the epochal Apollo 11 mission.

Modeling her account on “The House That Jack Built” (an unspoken, appropriate nod to President John F. Kennedy’s foundational role in the enterprise), Greene takes Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins from liftoff to post-splashdown ticker-tape parade. Side notes on some spreads and two pages of further facts with photographs at the end, all in smaller type, fill in select details about the mission and its historical context. The rhymed lines are fully cumulated only once, so there is some repetition but never enough to grow monotonous: “This is the Moon, a mysterious place, / a desolate land in the darkness of space, / far from Earth with oceans blue.” Also, the presentation of the text in just three or fewer lines per spread stretches out the narrative and gives Brundage latitude for both formal and informal group portraits of Apollo 11’s all-white crew, multiple glimpses of our planet and the moon at various heights, and, near the end, atmospheric (so to speak) views of the abandoned lander and boot prints in the lunar dust.

It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of tributes to our space program’s high-water mark. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-412-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Solid, if not revolutionary.



Albee and Ko take their shot at an early-reader biography about Alexander Hamilton.

Emergent readers (and their caregivers) familiar with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical Hamilton will be rewarded with what amounts to an illustrated highlights reel of the founding father’s life. Albee opens in medias res by describing Hamilton as “a soldier, a lawyer, and a financial wizard,” before the spare text quickly brings readers to Hamilton’s Caribbean childhood, noting his father’s abandonment, his mother’s death, and his determined rise from poverty. He’s presented as a trusted adviser to George Washington and rival to Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, with Ko’s accompanying digital art depicting him with a smiling man on horseback (Washington), while on the facing page, the two other men scowl. A later spread notes major differences between Jefferson and Hamilton, including acknowledgment that Jefferson enslaved people while “Hamilton was against slavery,” but Washington’s slave-owner status isn’t named, nor is the American Revolution’s impact on Indigenous peoples. Personal milestones, such as marriage to Eliza Schuyler, are noted alongside references to his involvement in the war and his work with the nascent American government. While his death occurs on the page, strategies to keep the text within the comprehension of its audience risk undermining other historical content by omitting such terms as “revolution” and the Federalist Papers (though they do appear in backmatter).

Solid, if not revolutionary. (Early reader/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-243291-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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