LIBERTY

This is a comprehensive, fact-filled, and stunningly illustrated history of the Statue of Liberty. It begins with an explanation of why the French came up with the idea in the first place, and how the brilliant young sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi became interested in the project that was to be his obsession for the next 15 years. Bartholdi decided where the statue must stand as soon as he laid eyes on what is now Liberty Island. “Here . . . my statue must rise; here where people get their first view of the New World.” A brief description of neoclassicism is followed by the history of the statue’s construction and the engineering feats it required. The statue was constructed in separate stages and, after the head was built, it was exhibited in the Paris Universal Exposition of 1878. The head was pulled through the streets of Paris in a cart pulled by 13 horses (the double-page spread of Liberty’s head crossing a bridge in Paris is alone worth the price of the book). There are hardly any women mentioned or pictured in the book, and Curlee addresses this by pointing out the irony that the statue exemplifying the spirit of liberty was erected at a time when women didn’t even have the right to vote. Acrylic paintings reproduced in full color from photographic transparencies are the artistic medium, and the appealing, interesting palette of blues, blacks, and bronzes captures the ambition and majesty of the project. While the text is occasionally pompous, and perhaps not as much fun as the Betsy and Guilio Maestro book on the same subject, Liberty is an engaging and useful resource for the classroom and library. (specifications, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-82823-3

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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Readers may wonder if they really needed a poem for every day of the school year.

THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY

This novel in verse is a remarkable feat of mimicry. The poems sound exactly like they were written by real fifth-graders.

Ms. Hill’s students, a diverse bunch judging by their names and their pictures, are required to write a poem every morning. (They listen to folk music while they’re writing, which says a lot about Ms. Hill.) One Seuss-inspired poem includes the stanza “Some kids are glad and some are sad. / You sit by Teacher. Were you bad?” That level of authenticity is hard to take unless it reveals something about the characters’ personalities. Happily, many of the students are worth getting to know, like Newt Mathews, a boy with Asperger’s who rescues the frogs hiding in the school’s back brick wall. Their story is compelling enough: as the title hints, the students are trying to prevent their school from being torn down. But too much of the plot feels conventional. When a student gets a crush on a girl who claims to hate him, some readers will pray that they don’t fall in love. The last section of the book is full of lovely, inventive moments. A set of instructions for making a flipbook somehow becomes a metaphor for loss. But too many poems—especially a bad parody of “Big Yellow Taxi”—simply don’t work.

Readers may wonder if they really needed a poem for every day of the school year. (glossary, guide to poetic forms) (Verse novel. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-52137-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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Yasmin’s campaign should help inspire young readers to believe in their own potential to make a difference and teach the...

BOOK UNCLE AND ME

When her source of books is threatened, so is 9-year-old Yasmin’s goal of reading a book a day “forever.”

The inspiration behind and assistant to her in that goal is Book Uncle, owner of a free lending library on the street corner where she lives. His motto is to provide the “right book for the right person for the right day.” When Book Uncle is forced to shut down his lending library because he can’t afford the permit, Yasmin is disappointed and confused. She is then motivated to try and get the lending library back in business and enlists the help of her friends and then their larger neighborhood. All this happens amid a mayoral election, which provides the perfect background for the plot. Yasmin is a precocious, inquisitive protagonist with a tendency to speak before she thinks. Her relationships with her family and friends read as authentic and loving, even, and perhaps especially, in the moments when they are not perfect. This all lays the foundation for the community organizing that later becomes so necessary in effecting the change that Yasmin seeks to make. Swaney’s playful, childlike illustrations advance the action and help to bring Yasmin’s Indian city to life.

Yasmin’s campaign should help inspire young readers to believe in their own potential to make a difference and teach the valuable lesson that sometimes it takes several small actions to make big moves. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55498-808-2

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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