At once spare and lush: a gorgeous introduction to the power of poetry.

16 WORDS

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS AND "THE RED WHEELBARROW"

The fictionalized backstory behind William Carlos Willams’ most famous poem.

In her picture-book debut, Rogers teams up with Groenink to offer a glimpse of William Carlos Williams’ intriguing life and to imagine what may have inspired his signature poem, “The Red Wheelbarrow”: “so much depends / upon / a red wheel / barrow / glazed with rain / water / beside the white / chickens.” Written in 1923 in suburban northern New Jersey, this 16-word free-verse lyric helped establish the family physician/poet as a beacon of 20th-century American imagist poetry. Here Rogers saves this compact, kid-friendly poem as the finale to her clever, biographically rooted close reading, in which she explores what exactly depends upon that wheelbarrow: namely the livelihood of gardener Thaddeus Marshall, Williams’ neighbor, and those fed by the vegetables the wheelbarrow helps him deliver—and Williams’ yearning to create art. Rogers not only calls attention to the objects included in the poem, but pointedly notes what was omitted: “Those sixteen words…do not describe Mr. Marshall’s life of work or caring or love. But somehow they say just that.” Groenink’s richly layered, chalky illustrations expressively realize in muted earth tones the all-important everyday elements of Williams’ world. They reveal Marshall to be black—one of few people of color living alongside the mostly white population of Rutherford, New Jersey.

At once spare and lush: a gorgeous introduction to the power of poetry. (author’s note, further reading) (Picture book/poetry. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-2016-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president.

HONEY, THE DOG WHO SAVED ABE LINCOLN

A slice of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood life is explored through a fictionalized anecdote about his dog Honey.

When 7-year-old Abe rescues a golden-brown dog with a broken leg, he takes the pup home to the Lincolns’ cabin in Knob Creek, Kentucky. Honey follows Abe everywhere, including trailing after his owner into a deep cave. When Abe gets stuck between rocks, Honey goes for help and leads a search party back to the trapped boy for a dramatic rescue. The source for this story was a book incorporating the memories of Abe’s boyhood friend, explained in an author’s note. The well-paced text includes invented dialogue attributed to Abe and his parents. Abe’s older sister, Sarah, is not mentioned in the text and is shown in the illustrations as a little girl younger than Abe. All the characters present white save for one black man in the rescue crew. An oversized format and multiple double-page spreads provide plenty of space for cartoon-style illustrations of the Lincoln cabin, the surrounding countryside, and the spooky cave where Abe was trapped. This story focuses on the incident in the cave and Abe’s rescue; a more complete look at Lincoln’s life is included in an appended timeline and the author’s note, both of which include references to Lincoln’s kindness to animals and to other pets he owned.

This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-269900-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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