They could do it! (author’s note, timeline, sources) (Picture book. 4-7)

READ REVIEW

ROSIE

STRONGER THAN STEEL

Cross-cultural feminist history goes down easy in this kid-friendly story.

Factual details about female factory workers in the United States and the Women’s Land Army in England merge in this fictional tale of a sunny little tractor. When readers first meet Rosie, she’s being constructed by racially diverse Rosie the Riveter–esque women in response to FDR’s Lend-Lease Act. Built with care, the tractor receives a final rose painted on her nose and then she’s shipped off to England. There, women tend the fields while the men fight in World War II. Rosie is determined to do her part, repeating, “I plow and I dig. / I dig and I plow. / No matter the job, / this is my vow.” The war ends but not her purpose—there’s a happy ending in store for the little tractor that could. Ample backmatter tells the true story behind tractors like Rosie. Children too small to appreciate Ward’s deft melding of history and storytelling will still find much to enjoy thanks to the copious mechanics, repeated rhymes, and a tractor to rival Mike Mulligan’s Mary Anne in terms of sheer on-the-job enthusiasm. Ward’s art simultaneously anthropomorphizes Rosie and gives a sense of authenticity to her human figures. More than the sum of its parts, this is a wildly successful and well-researched shaping of the picture-book form to true historical sheroes.

They could do it! (author’s note, timeline, sources) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1794-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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

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Puns, humor, and onomatopoeia emphasize the value of trying.

THE KNIGHT WHO MIGHT

Move over Little Engine That Could and get ready to share the bookshelf with The Knight Who Might.

This knight’s mantra is: “One day, I might be a knight.” But in repeated refrains, his magic horse, sword, and helmet each proclaim, “You might not” after the knight falls off his horse with an “Oof,” gets his sword stuck in a tree, and falls into a mud puddle when he tries to put his helmet on. The horse, sword, and helmet even hide when the knight enters “ye olde tournament,” reasoning, “He can’t be a knight without us.” But when the ever positive knight journeys to the tournament alone, the three show concern. “ ‘He’ll be exhausted,’ said the horse. ‘He’ll be cut to pieces,’ said the sword. ‘He’ll lose his head,’ said the helmet.” And when the knight is scheduled to battle The Lord With the Scary Looking Sword, the three doubters come to the aid of the knight when he declares, “For the first time in my life, I’m The Knight Who Might Not.” Tension builds as the knight, now with his horse, helmet, and sword, gallops closer and closer to the scary-looking sword-wielding lord until…“DONK!” Beckett emphasizes the slapstick in his cartoons. The protagonist’s magic objects all have googly eyes and eyebrows, which is a little unsettling when the helmet is on the knight’s head but does add to the silliness.

Puns, humor, and onomatopoeia emphasize the value of trying. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-84886-644-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Maverick Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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