CITY OF SNOW

THE GREAT BLIZZARD OF 1888

Written in an odd mix of rhymed and free verse, this middle-class-child’s-eye view of the Blizzard of 1888 offers a compelling picture of the disaster and its aftermath. Though the young narrator is able to persuade her father to take her to the circus in Madison Square, by the time they’re slogging home, “Our faces glazed crystal, / we battled the blizzard, / which was like a wild animal / rattling a cage, / attacking and fighting / all in a rage.” From a priceless cover scene of tiny figures sliding across the frozen East River beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, to views of passengers being rescued from a stalled elevated train, Filipucci’s neatly drawn city scenes effectively capture both the period look of New York’s streets and the catastrophe’s scale. But she does it in a lighthearted way that underscores the resilience of the city’s residents. High links present and past at the end, noting that New York’s electrical lines and public transportation went underground as a result of the storm. An absorbing lead-in to Jim Murphy’s Blizzard! (2000). (author’s note) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8027-8910-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2004

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OWNEY, THE MAIL-POUCH POOCH

Going back to contemporary sources, Kerby retraces the travels of a stray terrier who became the semi-official mascot of the U.S. Postal Service in the 1890s and who, aboard ship and train, escorted mailbags to hundreds of destinations around the world. She sticks largely to facts—finding that accounts of how he got his name differ, she doesn’t try to explain its origin, for instance—but does tuck in occasional invented details to smooth the narrative. Although the text notes that his preserved body is still on display at the U.S. Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., it neglects to mention that he met his end by violence. Ever alert and sporting a harness increasingly covered in tags attached at his many stopovers, the small dog makes an engaging centerpiece in Barasch’s watercolor sketches. His tale has been told several times for younger audiences, most recently in Irene Kelly’s A Small Dog’s Big Life (2005); still, dog lovers will lap up this latest iteration. (photos, research note, sources) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 7, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-374-35685-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010).

TOBY AND THE ICE GIANTS

A small bison meets some ice age megafauna in this prehistoric ramble.

Assuring his mom that “I’m big now. I’m not scared!” little Toby scampers off. He collides with a grumpy woolly rhinoceros, introduces himself to a Megatherium, wonders at a woolly mammoth’s tusks, and sidles anxiously past a handful of other Pleistocene creatures—including a group of fur-clad humans—before gamboling back to safety. Along with exchanged greetings, each encounter comes with a side box of descriptive facts and comments, plus a small image of the animal posed next to a human (in modern dress) for comparison. Young viewers will marvel at the succession of massive ruminants and predators, which Lillington renders in watercolors with reasonable accuracy, if anthropomorphic facial expressions. He offers measurements in metric units only (except for humans, whose weight is opaquely designated “average”). Rather anticlimactically, he caps his gallery with a perfunctory, unillustrated list of “some other amazing ice age animals that Toby didn’t get to meet!”

A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010). (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-909263-58-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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