Most young readers know so little about this nearly moribund Utopian community that any new book on the subject should be welcome—but not this one. The first half tells the true stories of two children who lived in Shaker communities. Of curiosity to contemporary readers is that the children don't seem very upset at being separated from their families. They adapt to Shaker ways, in an account that is little more than a superficial overview of a complex and often demanding way of life. Many terms are introduced and never really explained (e.g., needle emeries), neither in context nor in the brief glossary. The second half of the book—devoted to activities—is really problematic. Even experienced adult cooks are leery of making jam/jelly (the author uses the terms interchangeably), an activity that is downright dangerous for children. Many of the recipes are beyond the abilities of preteens, and the other activities can be quite ambitious, e.g., planting a ten-foot-square garden, often without clear instructions. Included is a bibliography of adult books; it fails to include the half-dozen titles—in print and still being read- -available for young readers, any of which provide far more solid information than this title does. (b&w photos and illustrations, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 1-55652-250-9

Page Count: 122

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1996

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Sharply reproduced black-and-white and full-color portraits, cityscapes, and images—cropped into ovals and rectangles, arranged in generous amounts of space—of quaintly angular mechanical devices visually document some of the changes wrought to 19th- century and early 20th-century American industry and home life by a flood of new inventions. It's an idealized picture: George Ferris's giant wheel looms over the 1893 Columbian Exposition; an office worker kicks back, eating an apple, presumably freed from drudgery by the typewriter; farmers lounge atop a rickety combine. This largely disappointing album in the Library of Congress Book series is as bland as a politician's speech. The brief, hyperbolic, present-tense text will leave readers feeling good about this period in history, but only marginally better informed about it. Sandler (Immigrants, p. 232, etc.) names inventors and their products, but seldom describes how either person or invention worked; acknowledges the contributions of African-Americans while relegating women to classes in how to board trolleys decorously; and devotes a single page to inventions of the last 75 years. The pictures are pretty; the history is simplistic and slanted. (index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 1996

ISBN: 0-06-024923-4

Page Count: 93

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1995

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Defining creation liberally, Pilling (Realms of Gold, 1993, etc.) includes pourquoi tales among the 16 here, retold in a uniform, easy style that does indeed lend itself to reading aloud—especially since the typeface is large and well-leaded. Presented in three general groups—beginnings, warmth and light, and animals—the familiar stories include the opening chapter of Genesis and the myth of Persephone (``How a Girl Brought About The Seasons''), while those less familiar range from the somber Norse ``How Everything Came from Fire and Ice'' to a tale from Sri Lanka in which an irritated servant girl whacks the low clouds with a broom until they float up beyond reach. Foreman's many illustrations only occasionally evoke a particular culture; in general they are his own interpretations, featuring small, sketchy figures placed on radiant backgrounds done in what looks like watercolors applied to wet paper. Pilling does not cite specific sources for each story, and next to Virginia Hamilton's In the Beginning (1988), this collection seems limited and scattershot; still, the selections are well- chosen for sharing, and for showing how cultures may differ while the big issues remain the same. (bibliography) (Folklore. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-56402-888-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1997

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