OF WALDEN POND

HENRY DAVID THOREAU, FREDERIC TUDOR, AND THE POND BETWEEN

Grist for thoughtful readers about two visionaries with very different sorts of visions.

A philosopher and a businessman both take advantage of nature’s bounty.

“Oddball / tax dodger / nature lover” Henry David Thoreau watches from his small cabin as “Bankrupt / disgrace / good for nothing” Frederic Tudor and his crew methodically saw the ice of frozen Walden Pond into blocks and pile them up—not for local use but to be shipped across the world to India. Calling both men dreamers, Cline-Ransome employs spare free verse as she follows each of them. In her carefully detailed paintings, Yazdani offers views from elevated perspectives of the pond’s changes through each season, Thoreau’s cozy cabin, and ice that is first swathed in hay and sawdust, then loaded aboard the ship Delhi for its monthslong voyage. As back in Concord, Thoreau marvels at how “The pure Walden water / is mingled with / The sacred water / of the Ganges,” on the other side of the world, Indian workers rush the precious ice through sweltering Calcutta streets to the homes of wealthy White residents. The pond has offered “an inspiration for Thoreau / a harvest for Tudor / a bounty for both.” In her afterword, the poet explains how Tudor’s visionary venture, which (plainly) involved inventive new methods of ice storage, reversed his flagging fortunes and why it seems likely that his customers were not native Indians but their British exploiters. Readers are left to ponder which man profited most from their association with a natural resource. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Grist for thoughtful readers about two visionaries with very different sorts of visions. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4858-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

I AM RUTH BADER GINSBURG

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Quick and slick, but ably makes its case.

The distinguished jurist stands tall as a role model.

Not literally tall, of course—not only was she actually tiny but, as with all the other bobbleheaded caricatures in the “Ordinary People Change the World” series, Ginsburg, sporting huge eyeglasses on an outsize head over black judicial robes even in childhood, remains a doll-like figure in all of Eliopoulos’ cartoon scenes. It’s in the frank acknowledgment of the sexism and antisemitism she resolutely overcame as she went from reading about “real female heroes” to becoming one—and also the clear statement of how she so brilliantly applied the principle of “tikkun olam” (“repairing the world”) in her career to the notion that women and men should have the same legal rights—that her stature comes clear. For all the brevity of his profile, Meltzer spares some attention for her private life, too (“This is Marty. He loved me, and he loved my brains. So I married him!”). Other judicial activists of the past and present, all identified and including the current crop of female Supreme Court justices, line up with a diversely hued and abled group of younger followers to pay tribute in final scenes. “Fight for the things you care about,” as a typically savvy final quote has it, “but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

Quick and slick, but ably makes its case. (timeline, photos, source list, further reading) (Picture-book biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2024

ISBN: 9780593533338

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Rocky Pond Books/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

JUST LIKE JESSE OWENS

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.

Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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