Wonderful for future constitutional scholars and other curious young readers.

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THE FOUNDING FATHERS!

THOSE HORSE-RIDIN', FIDDLE-PLAYIN', BOOK-READIN', GUN-TOTIN' GENTLEMEN WHO STARTED AMERICA

Fourteen of the men who somehow separated from one country and cobbled together a new one despite their differences are presented in a lively celebration of politics and personalities.

Each gets a two-page spread with a full-page portrait (name, sobriquet and dates included) along with a casual, colloquially phrased summary biography and then lots of stats presented briefly and intriguingly: height, weight, political leaning, education, wealth, and religious belief, in addition to hobbies, nickname and position on the Boston Tea Party. This last, notes Winter in an excellent addendum/glossary, was by no means a political action supported by all the founders. Winter addresses the question of ownership of humans directly, noting what his subjects’ expressed views were on slavery as well as which of these early Americans owned slaves. Winter’s folksy narrative manages to give each of the founders both dignity and humanity. Blitt’s signature style is perfectly suited to this droll enterprise. His Benjamin Franklin multitasks, his Patrick Henry emotes. The witty, energetic illustrations include clever references and a couple of sly anachronisms. Endpapers offer oval portraits of the entire lineup, with Washington, Franklin and Jefferson among the seven on the “Varsity” team, and Hancock, Marshall and Paine among the “Junior Varsity” faces. Author’s notes and a resource list are included, but frustratingly, the book lacks pagination and indexing.

Wonderful for future constitutional scholars and other curious young readers. (Nonfiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4274-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Award Winner

  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

  • Newbery Honor Book

BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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A mighty portrait of poverty amid cruelty and optimism.

FREE LUNCH

Recounting his childhood experiences in sixth grade, Ogle’s memoir chronicles the punishing consequences of poverty and violence on himself and his family.

The start of middle school brings about unwanted changes in young Rex’s life. His old friendships devolve as his school friends join the football team and slowly edge him out. His new English teacher discriminates against him due to his dark skin (Rex is biracial, with a white absentee dad and a Mexican mom) and secondhand clothes, both too large and too small. Seemingly worse, his mom enrolls him in the school’s free-lunch program, much to his embarrassment. “Now everyone knows I’m nothing but trailer trash.” His painful home life proffers little sanctuary thanks to his mom, who swings from occasional caregiver to violent tyrant at the slightest provocation, and his white stepdad, an abusive racist whose aggression outrivals that of Rex’s mom. Balancing the persistent flashes of brutality, Ogle magnificently includes sprouts of hope, whether it’s the beginnings of a friendship with a “weird” schoolmate, joyful moments with his younger brother, or lessons of perseverance from Abuela. These slivers of relative levity counteract the toxic relationship between young Rex, a boy prone to heated outbursts and suppressed feelings, and his mother, a fully three-dimensional character who’s viciously thrashing against the burden of poverty. It’s a fine balance carried by the author’s outstanding, gracious writing and a clear eye for the penetrating truth.

A mighty portrait of poverty amid cruelty and optimism. (author’s note, author Q&A, discussion guide, writing guide, resources) (Memoir. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-324-00360-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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