A fascinating introduction to one of the greatest hoaxes of all time, deftly pitched to elementary-age children.

FAIRY SPELL

HOW TWO GIRLS CONVINCED THE WORLD THAT FAIRIES ARE REAL

Long before there was Photoshop, in the days when photography was an infant technology, a teenager produced photographs that convinced the world fairies are real.

When 9-year-old Frances Griffiths told her disbelieving parents she saw fairies by the waterfall behind their country house in England, Frances’ 16-year-old cousin, Elsie Wright, wanted to prove Frances’ story. She painted paper fairies and photographed them. Then she took photos showing the girls interacting with the dainty winged creatures in the valley behind Elsie’s house. The girls never meant to fool the world, but the photographs fell into the hands of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Like Frances, Conan Doyle believed in fairies, and in 1920 he published the photographs in the widely read Strand magazine and wrote that he believed they were conclusive proof of the existence of fairies. After experts declared the pictures genuine and Conan Doyle’s article appeared, an innocent prank turned into a hoax that lasted until Frances and Elsie finally revealed their secret over 60 years later. Nobleman introduces readers to this remarkable story in a compact, engaging narrative that’s respectful to its young audience. Complementing Wheeler’s delicate, detailed illustrations of the all-white human cast and its middle-class English milieu are reproductions of the famed photographs.

A fascinating introduction to one of the greatest hoaxes of all time, deftly pitched to elementary-age children. (author’s note, not seen) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-69948-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project.

LUNAR NEW YEAR

From the Celebrate the World series

The Celebrate the World series spotlights Lunar New Year.

This board book blends expository text and first-person-plural narrative, introducing readers to the holiday. Chau’s distinctive, finely textured watercolor paintings add depth, transitioning smoothly from a grand cityscape to the dining room table, from fantasies of the past to dumplings of the present. The text attempts to provide a broad look at the subject, including other names for the celebration, related cosmology, and historical background, as well as a more-personal discussion of traditions and practices. Yet it’s never clear who the narrator is—while the narrative indicates the existence of some consistent, monolithic group who participates in specific rituals of celebration (“Before the new year celebrations begin, we clean our homes—and ourselves!”), the illustrations depict different people in every image. Indeed, observances of Lunar New Year are as diverse as the people who celebrate it, which neither the text nor the images—all of the people appear to be Asian—fully acknowledges. Also unclear is the book’s intended audience. With large blocks of explication on every spread, it is entirely unappealing for the board-book set, and the format may make it equally unattractive to an older, more appropriate audience. Still, readers may appreciate seeing an important celebration warmly and vibrantly portrayed.

Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project. (Board book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3303-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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