DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE PIONEERS

In an addition to his series that repeatedly demonstrates how much we don’t know, Davis tackles the pioneer days and routes to the west. The flyleaf sets the tone by alerting readers to the “cool quotes” and “fascinating sidebars” of the volume and proclaiming, “The West doesn’t get any wilder than this.” An accessible resource for the many teachers who do units on the Oregon Trail, this offering covers such topics as Lewis and Clark, mountain men, trail dangers, the Gold Rush, cowboys, railroads, and Indian wars. The question-and-answer format invites browsing and offers a fair amount of information, but the work is condescending to young readers who don’t need silly illustrations and dumb questions to entice them. “Did the pioneers take the Yellow Brick Road to Oregon?” “Did the pioneers use their best parachutes for jumping off?” “Were there Pilgrims on the trail?” The breezy, casual style fails to provide sufficient context for the occasional serious sidebars, such as General Sherman’s statement that “the more Indians we kill this year, the less will have to be killed in the next war.” The work does succeed in one of its missions—to tell the interesting story of real pioneers “who braved harsh winters and burning summers, disease and disaster, to head west in search of a dream come true.” Though an adequate introduction, this is not for serious readers. (time line, additional resources) (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-028617-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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This lighthearted addition to the STEM shelf encourages children to question, hypothesize, experiment, and observe.

IT'S A ROUND, ROUND WORLD!

From the Joulia Copernicus series

In a confident first-person narrative, young scientist Joulia Copernicus debunks the story that Columbus “proved Earth is round.”

Informing readers that Columbus knew this fact, and so did most people of his time, Joulia also points out that “Ancient Greek, Islamic, and Indian scholars theorized that Earth was round WAY before Columbus’s time.” Confident Joulia explains how Columbus, shown as a haughty captain in the humorous, cartoon illustrations, and his fellow mariners confirmed Earth was round by discerning “that when ships sail away from you, they seem to disappear from the bottom. When they sail toward you, they appear from the top. On a flat Earth, you’d see the entire ship the entire time.” The accompanying illustrations, almost like animation cels, provide the visuals readers need to confirm these assertions. Joulia also turns to astronomy. A lunar eclipse is the highlight of a double-page spread with a large yellow sun, a personified blue and green Earth wearing sunglasses, and the moon moving in iterations through the Earth’s shadow. This shows readers that the Earth’s shadow is “ROUND!” Joulia has straight, brown hair and pale skin and is almost always the only human in any given illustration. It’s great to see a young woman scientist, but it’s too bad there’s not more diversity around her. Two experiments stimulate further exploration.

This lighthearted addition to the STEM shelf encourages children to question, hypothesize, experiment, and observe. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63592-128-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: StarBerry Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A book to share that celebrates an immigrant and his abiding love for his adopted country, its holidays, and his “home sweet...

IRVING BERLIN, THE IMMIGRANT BOY WHO MADE AMERICA SING

A Jewish immigrant from Russia gives America some of its most iconic and beloved songs.

When Israel Baline was just 5 years old, his family fled pogroms in the Russian Empire and landed in New York City’s Lower East Side community. In the 1890s the neighborhood was filled with the sights, smells, and, most of all, sounds of a very crowded but vibrant community of poor Europeans who sailed past the Statue of Liberty in New York’s harbor to make a new life. Israel, who later became Irving Berlin, was eager to capture those sounds in music. He had no formal musical training but succeeded grandly by melding the rich cantorial music of his father with the spirit of America. Churnin’s text focuses on Berlin’s early years and how his mother’s words were an inspiration for “God Bless America.” She does not actually refer to Berlin as Jewish until her author’s note. Sanchez’s digital illustrations busily fill the mostly dark-hued pages with angular faces and the recurring motif of a very long swirling red scarf, worn by Berlin throughout. Librarians should note that the CIP information and the timeline are on pages pasted to the inside covers.

A book to share that celebrates an immigrant and his abiding love for his adopted country, its holidays, and his “home sweet home.” (author’s note, timeline) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-939547-44-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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