A brilliant integration of Indigenous American art and history.


Biographical profiles of 34 Indigenous Americans, rendered as poems, are illustrated by nearly 30 enrolled tribal artists.

Bruchac’s introduction dispels stubborn stereotypes about Native people, disputing that their time was “back then, not in the present—or the future.” By presenting profiles chronologically, from The Peacemaker (circa 1000 C.E.) to Wilma Mankiller (1945-2010), he elegantly unspools a more nuanced Native history. Free verse, arranged in stanzas with short lines and simple language, renders complex historical figures relatable for their courage, perseverance, and passion. While some of the subjects—Pocahontas, Geronimo, Jim Thorpe, and others—are covered in student curricula, Bruchac provides unique details and a fresh approach. He refutes the tired trope of a “romance” between preteen Pocahontas and John Smith, explaining that a White observer misinterpreted Smith’s ritual adoption by the Powhatan Nation as violence, mistaking the girl’s ceremonial role as intercession. Warriors, including women, defended their lands against Spanish, British, and American invaders. Po’Pay (circa 1630-1688) helped unify the Pueblo villages against the Spanish colonizers, effectively repelling them for 12 years. Others bridged tribal and mainstream cultures through law, medicine, activism, religion, and art. Throughout, Bruchac meticulously details how the successive colonizers’ brutality, deceit, and coercion scarred both individual members and tribal communities. The stellar art, representing varied media and styles, reifies tribal reverence and often uses humor, irony, and pop-cultural references to skewer stereotypes.

A brilliant integration of Indigenous American art and history. (biographical thumbnails, author’s note) (Historical poetry. 10-14)

Pub Date: Dec. 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4788-7516-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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An enticing entree to the glories of Shakespeare’s verse.


From the Poetry for Kids series

In the fifth installment of the illuminating Poetry for Kids series, the spotlight shifts from U.S. luminaries—Dickinson, Whitman, Sandburg, Frost—across the Atlantic to perhaps the most famous writer of English.

Again pairing an accomplished academician with a gifted illustrator, the resulting collection features 31 poetic selections curated by Shakespearean scholar Tassi (English, Univ. Nebraska-Kearney) and accompanied by atmospheric artwork from Spanish illustrator López. Though the Shakespearean oeuvre contains 154 sonnets and some longer poems, speeches from his plays dominate Tassi’s carefully crafted portrait, highlighting many famous reflections on love and desire, calls to arms, and musings on power. Interestingly, one must look to the volume’s explanatory “What William Was Thinking” section to learn not only the dramatic context behind, for example, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears,” from Julius Caesar, but why Mark Antony’s observation that “The evil that men do lives after them; / The good is oft interred with their bones” carries such weight. More immediately, alongside Macbeth’s timeless “To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow” soliloquy, López’s eerie and evocative visualization wonderfully sketches the outline of the stages of life being alluded to in the smoky vapor of a snuffed-out candle. Shakespeare’s intricate syntax and Elizabethan vocabulary will warrant additional coaching for younger readers, facilitated by marginal notes.

An enticing entree to the glories of Shakespeare’s verse. (index) (Picture book/poetry. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63322-504-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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A harrowing and remarkable story of strength and survival.



Sisters Zhanna and Frina Arshanskaya were piano prodigies in Stalin’s Soviet Union who survived against the odds.

The Jewish Arshansky family lived in the small Ukrainian city of Berdyansk until the sisters were 8 and 6, when growing antisemitism forced them to settle in bustling Kharkov. The sisters earned scholarships to a famed music conservatory and were happy for some time. But when the Einsatzgruppen, or Nazi death squads, arrived in 1941, the family was forced on a long death march to Drobitsky Yar where nearly everyone was killed. The two girls, then 14 and 12, escaped and made it back to Kharkov. Relying on the kindness of courageous people, Zhanna and Frina obtained false papers and established new identities as Christian girls named Anna and Marina Morozova. They went on to become renowned pianists, hiding in plain sight and entertaining German audiences and Nazi soldiers across Europe. Though constantly living with the risk of discovery, they survived the war with their secret safe. Using a variety of poetry styles and direct quotes from Dawson’s mother, Zhanna, the co-authors relate the siblings’ horrific and incredible lives. While some of the verse forms seem almost too frivolous for such a serious tale, this work offers readers the truth of the Shoah in a simple and accessible format.

A harrowing and remarkable story of strength and survival. (note on names, map, authors’ note, photographs, letters, afterword, list of music, historical note, places of note, poetry notes, sources, bibliography) (Verse biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308389-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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