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

OF WALDEN POND

HENRY DAVID THOREAU, FREDERIC TUDOR, AND THE POND BETWEEN

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 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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

JUST LIKE JESSE OWENS

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 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Despite choruses praising Ride’s persistence, her life is inexplicably portrayed as lacking struggle.

SALLY RIDE

From the She Persisted series

Sally Ride: from tennis-playing schoolgirl through astronaut and educator to entrepreneur.

Sally Ride stars in this entry to the chapter-book series spun off from Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger’s picture book She Persisted (2017). Long before she becomes the first woman to go to space, Sally is an athlete, a White girl born in California in 1951. She’s a tennis whiz but an inconsistent scholar, attending a prestigious private school on an athletic scholarship. Though the narrative a little ostentatiously tells readers that “Sally persisted,” the youth presented here—a child who rolls her eyes at boring teachers, a college student who drops out to play tennis, an excellent tennis player who “just did not enjoy” the effort of becoming a professional—shows the opposite. Sexism is alluded to, but no barriers are portrayed as blocking young Sally herself. Though her amazing achievements aren’t downplayed, the groundbreaking Sally Ride, in this telling, becomes simply someone who applied for a job and excelled once she liked what she was doing. Sally’s partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, is mentioned as such, but the text avoids using any pronouns for O’Shaughnessy, which, along with her gender-neutral name, may leave many young readers ignorant that Ride silently broke sexuality barriers as well.

Despite choruses praising Ride’s persistence, her life is inexplicably portrayed as lacking struggle. (reading list, websites) (Biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11592-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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