A cinematic treatment of derring-do and yet another testament to the importance of women in the historical evolution of the...


Moss tackles an important incident in the life of Kate Carter—aka Kate Warne—the first female professional private detective in the United States.

Accompanied by Chu’s historical-period visuals, Moss begins with Allan Pinkerton’s hiring of Kate Warne, an ambitious, adventurous white woman who talks her way into the job, before getting to the nub of this story: Warne’s undercover work in disentangling the theft of $40,000 from a courier’s secure pouch. The sinuous trap laid by the detectives involved in the case—all Pinkerton men and one Pinkerton woman—is colorful enough to withstand the necessarily telegraphic narrative that Moss employs to fit the story into picture-book format. There is double-dealing and spying and subterfuge, close calls and traps and brain work, melding the story into a thriller and highlighting the talents and qualities that a woman brings to what is misconceived as a man’s job. Moss has picked a special moment in time as well as a special woman, spelled out in an author’s note: Pinkerton’s beginnings marked the turning of detective work to professionals. In Chu’s sepia-toned illustrations, Warne wears a determined expression, matched by the scowls of the villains, which recall such great historical yarns as The Great Train Robbery.

A cinematic treatment of derring-do and yet another testament to the importance of women in the historical evolution of the United States. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-939547-33-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark.



This distillation of the photographer’s life and achievements focuses on his “antsy” youth and early influences.

A distracted, sickly student, Ansel reveled in nature along the beaches near his San Francisco home. He blossomed after his prescient father withdrew him from formal schooling, enabling home tutoring and such experiences as a season ticket to San Francisco’s 1915 world’s fair. Effectively employing onomatopoeia, Jenson-Elliott reveals 14-year-old Ansel’s pivotal experience at Yosemite. On a family trip, “Ansel got his first glimpse of Yosemite Valley—the ripple-rush-ROAR! of water and light! Light! Light! It was love at first sight.” In Yosemite, his parents gave him his first camera, and “he was off— Run-leap-scramble—SNAP!…Ansel’s photos became a / journal of everything he saw.” The final five double-page spreads compress 60-plus years: photography expeditions in Yosemite, marriage to Virginia Best, Adams’ government-commissioned work documenting the national parks, and the enduring importance of his photographic record of the American wild lands. Hale’s collages blend traditional and digital layering and include cropped photographic images such as Adams’ childhood home and wood-paneled station wagon. Her stylized depiction of Yosemite’s Half Dome and decision to render several iconic photographs as painterly thumbnails display a jarring disregard for Adams’ lifelong absorption with technical and visual precision.

There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark. (biographical note, photographs with note, bibliography of adult resources, websites) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-082-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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