Readers don’t need to have been recently emancipated to understand this eloquent testament to the overriding importance of...

READ REVIEW

FREEDOM'S SCHOOL

Emancipation means education.

A little girl narrates her family’s story in the days and months immediately after the end of slavery. Her parents decide that she and her brother must attend school in spite of the dangers they face walking there. The school does not have very much in the way of supplies or heat, but it does have a teacher “with skin as brown as mine,” says the girl. Students come and go depending on when they are needed in the field. Then racism strikes, and the school burns down. Still, the community spirit is strong, and the African-American neighbors come together to rebuild. Cline-Ransome does not give a specific locale for the story, thus making it representative of much of the rural South after the Civil War. Telling the story in the voice of a child helps to make the story more immediate and should help young readers appreciate the difficulties involved in building, maintaining and attending school. Ransome’s watercolor paintings are richly evocative of the seasons while also creating memorable characters and emotions. The endpapers depicting a blackboard with upper- and lowercase letters written in chalk are a child-friendly touch.

Readers don’t need to have been recently emancipated to understand this eloquent testament to the overriding importance of school. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4231-6103-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Jump at the Sun

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Just a bit of well-armed fun, more suitable formatwise for a gift than classroom or library shelves.

MAISY'S CASTLE

A relatively sturdy pullout castle with a die-cut drawbridge and a dragon in the cellar serves as playscape for punch-out figures of medieval Maisy and her friends.

The dramatic main event follows a perfunctory scenario in which Maisy welcomes “Sir Charley” the crocodile and others to a bit of archery practice, then dons armor to win a friendly joust “by one point.” Even toddlers-at-arms (with minimal assistance from a yeoparent) can follow the easy instructions to set up the castle and brace it. The card-stock punch-outs include four characters in period dress, two rideable destriers and, oddly, a cannon. These can be stored in an accompanying pocket when not in use—or even dispensed with entirely, as the castle is not only festooned with busy guards and other residents, but there is lots of (literal) monkey business going on. Along with sending Maisy further from her customary domestic settings than usual, this outing features a possibly discomfiting quantity of weaponry—none seen actually in use, but still adding an unusually martial note to a series that generally promotes more peaceful pursuits.

Just a bit of well-armed fun, more suitable formatwise for a gift than classroom or library shelves. (Novelty. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7438-0

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Good, quick-moving fun. Kids may marvel that communication existed before the telephone and Internet.

JACKRABBIT MCCABE AND THE ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH

This original tall tale is literally up to speed.

Jackrabbit McCabe is the fastest man in Windy Flats, a mid-19th-century town. With legs that are preternaturally long, Jackrabbit races everything, human, animal, and mechanical—and wins every time. His neighbors rely on him to deliver messages with lightning speed. Then fate, in the guise of a new invention called the telegraph, rushes in. Everyone in Windy Flats scoffs at the idea that “any newfangled contraption” is faster than their man, and he eagerly takes up the challenge to “race” against it. For kids it won’t be a foregone conclusion that the electrical device proves faster than any pair of human legs, yet for the first time, Jackrabbit must admit defeat. Happily, a logical ending is in store: our speedy hero models good sportsmanship by accepting loss gracefully, and he eagerly becomes the town’s telegraph operator and newspaper deliverer. Naturally, he fulfills his duties remarkably quickly. Readers will find that the story, written in folksy terms and rhythms, clips along at a fast pace, too, and the fittingly retro illustrations are filled with action, energy, and good humor. Occasional changes in typeface and size add to the excitement of the telling. The backmatter includes a helpful historical author’s note, a Morse code key, and a riddle in Morse code for readers to solve.

Good, quick-moving fun. Kids may marvel that communication existed before the telephone and Internet. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37843-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more