THE JOURNEY THAT SAVED CURIOUS GEORGE

THE TRUE WARTIME ESCAPE OF MARGARET AND H.A. REY

Borden begins her spare, lyrical text with the Hamburg childhoods of her protagonists, Hans Augusto Reyersbach and Margarete Waldstein, who grew up to become H.A. and Margaret Rey. From Hamburg to Rio de Janeiro to prewar Paris, the narrative—stunningly embellished with period photographs, sketches, reproductions of Rey’s diary and letters to and from editors, and vignettes of their famous characters—takes the two talented Jewish artists to the brink of war. Their joy in each other, their love of animals (including a pet monkey) and their pleasure in the creation of their picture books shine through, painting a beautifully humane portrait of these lions of children’s literature. The Paris idyll cut short by the Nazi advance, the text becomes a catalog of the items needed to get the couple out of Paris, which they did on bicycle in a thrilling escape—with the precious manuscript that became Curious George. If the artifact seems all-too-patently created to join the George publishing machine, it is nevertheless a lovely work, Drummond’s movement-filled watercolors evoking but never imitating the work of his subjects. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-33924-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2005

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

GEORGE CRUM AND THE SARATOGA CHIP

Spinning lively invented details around skimpy historical records, Taylor profiles the 19th-century chef credited with inventing the potato chip. Crum, thought to be of mixed Native-American and African-American ancestry, was a lover of the outdoors, who turned cooking skills learned from a French hunter into a kitchen job at an upscale resort in New York state. As the story goes, he fried up the first batch of chips in a fit of pique after a diner complained that his French fries were cut too thickly. Morrison’s schoolroom, kitchen and restaurant scenes seem a little more integrated than would have been likely in the 1850s, but his sinuous figures slide through them with exaggerated elegance, adding a theatrical energy as delicious as the snack food they celebrate. The author leaves Crum presiding over a restaurant (also integrated) of his own, closes with a note separating fact from fiction and also lists her sources. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58430-255-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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