SKYROCKETS AND SNICKERDOODLES

The ever-so-slight Cobtown series (The Monster in the Shadows, 2000, etc.) arrives at the Fourth of July, and baseball, without much energy behind it. As usual, the story comes from the diary of Lucky Hart, who at age ten in 1845 is the shortstop for her town’s team. Cobtown’s disappeared from the local maps (mouse damage) and been renamed Carbuncle. No one is happy, certainly not the baseball team, now the Carbuncle Skyrockets. On the Fourth, they will face the Ploomajiggy Unbeatables (P.U., it says on their uniforms) under the newly adopted rules of “base ball.” The only way to get the town’s name back is to find the original town marker, which no one remembers ever seeing. But they do find an old recipe for snickerdoodles (duly reproduced) and Aunt Heddy promises a batch of the cookies to whoever locates the marker. A bumptious goat and a pig figure prominently in both the town’s restoration and the baseball game. The illustrations, which have the hard sheen and roundheaded geometry of computer images or bad cartoon art, perk up a bit in the small vignettes like the team rosters and the rule book. But there are long pages of handwritten text that will definitely challenge any reader. Earnest in its silliness, but ho-hum and way too much reading. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 12, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32553-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2001

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MR. LINCOLN’S BOYS

BEING THE MOSTLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S TROUBLEMAKING SONS TAD AND WILLIE

Not much is heard about President Lincoln’s children, so Rabin fills a gap with this brief snapshot into the lives of two of them, Tad and Willie, which Ibatoulline illustrates with a softly drenched light that suggests yesteryear and a hint of melancholy, his images often evoking hand-tinted daguerreotypes. Working from historical documents, then embellishing to give the story a narrative, Rabin pleasingly draws two little rascals, full of practical jokes and absolute entitlement to their father’s attention, which the old stoic gives with imperturbable, beatific grace (while his aides bite their tongues). When the boys have second thoughts after condemning a toy soldier to death, they go to their father for a pardon; Abe consents with a wry “it makes me feel rested after a hard day’s work, to find some good excuse to save a man’s life.” An author’s note explains the genesis of the story and fleshes out the principals, including Tad and Willie, who, like their father, lived too-brief lives. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-670-06169-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2008

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The runt of the litter of print titles and websites covering the topic.

PRESIDENT ADAMS' ALLIGATOR

This tally of presidential pets reads like a school report (for all that the author is a journalist for Fox Business Network) and isn’t helped by its suite of amateurish illustrations.

Barnes frames the story with a teacher talking to her class and closes it with quizzes and a write-on “ballot.” Presidents from Washington to Obama—each paired to mentions of birds, dogs, livestock, wild animals and other White House co-residents—parade past in a rough, usually undated mix of chronological order and topical groupings. The text is laid out in monotonous blocks over thinly colored scenes that pose awkwardly rendered figures against White House floors or green lawns. In evident recognition that the presidents might be hard to tell apart, on some (but not enough) pages they carry identifying banners. The animals aren’t so differentiated; an unnamed goat that William Henry Harrison is pulling along with his cow Sukey in one picture looks a lot like one that belonged to Benjamin Harrison, and in some collective views, it’s hard to tell which animals go with which first family.

The runt of the litter of print titles and websites covering the topic. (bibliography, notes for adult readers) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62157-035-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Patriot Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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