AT HOME IN A NEW LAND

Sandin presents her third slice of Swedish-American history in the venerable I Can Read series. Carl Erik, after leaving Sweden during the “hunger years” of 1868 and ’69, now lives in Minnesota with his family and close relatives. Thanks to the Homestead Act, soon 160 acres of land will belong to his family and the long, difficult times will be over. But, in order to clear the land and build the house, Carl Erik’s father will first have to make some money, faraway in a logging camp. Carl Erik will now be the man of the house. Frequent charming watercolor-washed black-line drawings show the worry and diligence of the boy. He faces his unfounded fears of the native Ojibway, the anti-Swede taunts of a schoolmate as he struggles to read English and the difficulty of finding food. Sandin skillfully presents this slice of immigrant life through words and illustrations that will both inform and please. For young history students and children wishing to learn more about Swedish immigration. (author note, glossary) (Fiction. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-058077-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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THAT BOOK WOMAN

Young Cal lives high in Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains. Sister Lark keeps her nose in a book nearly from daybreak to dusty dark. Cal’s a mite suspicious—and more than a mite resentful—of this, as he spends most of his time helping Pap with chores. One day, he spies a sorrel mare clippity-clopping slowly up the mountain; the rider’s not a man neither, but a lady wearing britches! She carries a passel of books in her saddle packs; all the family (exceptin’ Cal) welcomes her warmly. Back she comes several times a year, no matter how bad the weather. This causes Cal to wonder why she’s so dedicated, and he asks Lark to help him learn to read. By the time the Pack Horse Librarian appears again, she’s made another convert. Small’s illustrations, combining ink, watercolor and chalk, add an appropriately earthy warmth, complementing the precise prose beautifully. Every line oozes character: The hound dog’s ears flop like nobody’s business, and Cal’s face in the foreground displays every emotion as he moves from scowling suspicion to wonder. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-0812-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2008

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THE CIRCUS SHIP

Van Dusen’s rhyming text takes inspiration from an 1836 shipwreck, but fanciful fun, not tragedy, awaits readers here. The 15 animals aboard The Royal Star swim to an island off Maine after the ship runs aground and the circus’s owner, Mr. Paine, abandons them. At first they shock villagers and run mischievously amok. A fire in a farm shed—with little Emma Rose Abbott inside!—engenders a dramatic rescue by the tiger, whose skill in leaping through flames comes into play. Amusingly, animals and villagers collude to thwart Mr. Paine’s attempt to reclaim his menagerie. The verse is sprightly, but the pictures are the true stunners. Bright, lampooning gouaches (familiar from the Mercy Watson series) and dizzying perspective perfectly suit this picaresque tale. The reprehensible Mr. Paine is an apoplectic giant striding into the placid village at sunset. Huge, leaping flames dramatize the tiger’s riveting heroics. Children will pore over panoramic spreads that invite them to find each of the 15 animals and celebrate a denouement that serves up Mr. Paine’s just deserts. Splendid! (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3090-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2009

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