Strict facts, nicely presented: a winning treatment.

READ REVIEW

THE MAYFLOWER

Straightforward text and folk-inspired artwork give just the right amount of information for youngsters, beginning with the Pilgrims’ reasons for leaving England and ending with the first Thanksgiving.

Several pages into the book, readers learn the explanation for the cover’s bold and beautiful depiction of a rowboat full of people heading toward the Mayflower: Another ship, the Speedwell, had sprung a leak. Before this, readers learn about the Puritans’ religious fears in England and about how the term Pilgrims refers to a merger of Puritans and Strangers—unaffiliated adventurers—all crammed together onto the Mayflower on its journey to the New World. The well-researched text includes facts most interesting, arguably, to young readers: what people ate on the Mayflower, how children were entertained, a daring rescue, a clever repair to a broken main beam. Although hardships are not omitted, they are properly muted by simple, unsensational sentences. The art is an excellent extension of the text, showing people, animals and artifacts in a semiprimitive style and a gloriously changing palette—especially striking are the images of the tiny Mayflower in the enormous ocean. By the time readers reach the requisite Thanksgiving scene, rendered in bright, lavish, autumnal hues, they will have learned a good deal of history and had their own feast of the artwork’s richness.

Strict facts, nicely presented: a winning treatment. (timeline, resources) (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2943-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

TINY LITTLE ROCKET

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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Utterly compelling.

WHEN I WAS EIGHT

The authors of Fatty Legs (2010) distill that moving memoir of an Inuit child’s residential school experience into an even more powerful picture book.

“Brave, clever, and as unyielding” as the sharpening stone for which she’s named, Olemaun convinces her father to send her from their far-north village to the “outsiders’ school.” There, the 8-year-old receives particularly vicious treatment from one of the nuns, who cuts her hair, assigns her endless chores, locks her in a dark basement and gives her ugly red socks that make her the object of other children’s taunts. In her first-person narration, she compares the nun to the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, a story she has heard from her sister and longs to read for herself, subtly reminding readers of the power of literature to help face real life. Grimard portrays this black-cloaked nun with a scowl and a hooked nose, the image of a witch. Her paintings stretch across the gutter and sometimes fill the spreads. Varying perspectives and angles, she brings readers into this unfamiliar world. Opening with a spread showing the child’s home in a vast, frozen landscape, she proceeds to hone in on the painful school details. A final spread shows the triumphant child and her book: “[N]ow I could read.”

Utterly compelling. (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55451-490-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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