DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE 50 STATES

The author of the popular adult Don’t Know Much About series goes after a younger audience, laying out a skimpy assortment of random facts about the states and using the same lighthearted Q&A format. With Andriani’s small cartoon illustrations liberally scattered about for color, Davis pauses at each state in alphabetical order, starting with a box of facts in brief, then, along with the occasional lame joke (“What has four eyes but can’t see? Mississippi”), introducing a handful of historical events, famous natives, natural features, or unique characteristics. Browsers may pause here for a few moments—before going on to more substantial tours of the US, such as Lila Perl’s It Happened in America (1992). Because Davis’s accuracy is sometimes as casual as his style—not all of the Alamo’s defenders were Texans, for instance, and Davy Crockett wore a coonskin cap far more often in legend than in life—it’s not a primary purchase for libraries. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-028607-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2001

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TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS AND STILL STANDING

Strong rhythms and occasional full or partial rhymes give this account of P.T. Barnum’s 1884 elephant parade across the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge an incantatory tone. Catching a whiff of public concern about the new bridge’s sturdiness, Barnum seizes the moment: “’I will stage an event / that will calm every fear, erase every worry, / about that remarkable bridge. / My display will amuse, inform / and astound some. / Or else my name isn’t Barnum!’” Using a rich palette of glowing golds and browns, Roca imbues the pachyderms with a calm solidity, sending them ambling past equally solid-looking buildings and over a truly monumental bridge—which soars over a striped Big Top tent in the final scene. A stately rendition of the episode, less exuberant, but also less fictionalized, than Phil Bildner’s Twenty-One Elephants (2004), illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (author’s note, resource list) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-44887-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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THE STORY OF EASTER

First published in 1968 and newly illustrated by Vitale, this is a history of the Christian celebration of Easter that, after briefly recounting the story of the Resurrection, links the holiday to other spring festivals, covers the ancient custom of giving the gift of an egg (a symbol of the new life of spring), and includes contemporary customs, such as the fashionable stroll down New York City's Fifth Avenue after church on that day. Also included are instructions for egg decoration and a recipe for hot cross buns. Even the recipe demonstrates the clear, informative prose of Fisher, whose expert organization leads from topic to topic. Vitale's illustrations are a marvel; each full-page picture is filled with details that reflect the times, the flora, and the culture of the era shown, colored with a range of appropriate earth tones. Every element of design makes this an inviting addition to the holiday shelf, even for those already owning the original book with Ati Forberg's illustrations. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 1997

ISBN: 0-06-027296-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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