CAPITAL!

WASHINGTON D.C. FROM A TO Z

An alphabetic celebration of the various sights and attractions of Washington, D.C., falls victim to a fuzzy definition of its audience. Melmed (Fright Night Flight, p. 1229, etc.) tidily organizes the capital from A (Air and Space Museum) to Z (National Zoo), describing each attraction in rhyming couplets and further explicating specific features in teeny prose print. Thus F is accompanied by both “Who searches for the Ten Most Wanted / And faces terrorists, undaunted? / Who’ll ambush the most clever spy / or solve a crime? The FBI!” and “Forensic scientists at the FBI can enlarge fingerprints found at a crime scene and search through their computer data banks to find a match.” Lessac’s (On the Same Day in March, not reviewed, etc.) cheery folk-arty illustrations present thumbnail details with as much energy as broad landscapes teeming with happy multiethnic throngs. The illustrations work well with the prose explications, and the level of detail provided by both will delight older children who can get past the young-seeming format and who have the background necessary to provide historical/civic context. But the verse, which never rises above the level of doggerel, is way out of sync with the prose. It insults the readers who would be captivated by the prose and frequently fails to illuminate sufficiently its subjects for younger children. An attractive package that tries to be too many things to too many people. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-688-17561-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002

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It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of...

THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON

A 50th-anniversary commemoration of the epochal Apollo 11 mission.

Modeling her account on “The House That Jack Built” (an unspoken, appropriate nod to President John F. Kennedy’s foundational role in the enterprise), Greene takes Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins from liftoff to post-splashdown ticker-tape parade. Side notes on some spreads and two pages of further facts with photographs at the end, all in smaller type, fill in select details about the mission and its historical context. The rhymed lines are fully cumulated only once, so there is some repetition but never enough to grow monotonous: “This is the Moon, a mysterious place, / a desolate land in the darkness of space, / far from Earth with oceans blue.” Also, the presentation of the text in just three or fewer lines per spread stretches out the narrative and gives Brundage latitude for both formal and informal group portraits of Apollo 11’s all-white crew, multiple glimpses of our planet and the moon at various heights, and, near the end, atmospheric (so to speak) views of the abandoned lander and boot prints in the lunar dust.

It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of tributes to our space program’s high-water mark. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-412-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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WHEN EVERYBODY WORE A HAT

Between portrait photos taken almost nine decades apart, Steig crustily introduces his Mom, his Pop, and his childhood world—a world where “there were almost no electric lights, cars or telephones—and definitely no TV.” Like his prose, his cartoons are sketchy and childlike, passing with a turn of the page from a gory, imagined battlefield scene to views of the janitor’s tough-looking dog and other neighborhood pets. He barely shows or mentions siblings, friends, or his Bronx neighborhood—and even younger viewers will notice that, despite the title, many of his figures are hatless. So what will children get from this? Next to that whippersnapper James Stevenson’s When I Was Nine (1986), but still distant, generation, not much more than the bare hint that Steig, too, was young. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-009700-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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