An excellent, historically accurate account of the beginnings of the Lutheran denomination of Protestantism.

The 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation occasions a new biography of its prime mover.

In 1517, Martin Luther revolutionized church doctrine when he posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, to protest the sale of indulgences in Rome. This biography, set against the backdrop of the late Middle Ages, progresses chronologically toward this event and its aftermath through well-defined stages of Luther’s life. From the cover art’s graphic depiction of the world being turned on its head, through pages reminiscent of a family album, the design is particularly well-suited to the subject. Illustrations resembling etchings are based on archival portraits of Luther, his family, and leading European figures of the 15th and 16th centuries. (Two pages of concluding notes describe their subjects.) While skewed toward a young Lutheran audience, the book has a strong narrative structure that focuses on the profound impact that Luther had on his times, including his translation of the Bible into the vernacular so that ordinary Germans could read it themselves. Luther’s religious life, from becoming a monk to being outlawed by the emperor after he uttered his famous phrase, “Here I stand,” is dramatically conveyed through text and illustration. The underpinnings of Luther’s philosophy are clearly articulated in explanations of several individual theses.

An excellent, historically accurate account of the beginnings of the Lutheran denomination of Protestantism. (Biography. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5495-7

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017



A measured corrective to pervasive myths about what is often referred to as the “first Thanksgiving.”

Contextualizing them within a Native perspective, Newell (Passamaquoddy) touches on the all-too-familiar elements of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and its origins and the history of English colonization in the territory now known as New England. In addition to the voyage and landfall of the Mayflower, readers learn about the Doctrine of Discovery that arrogated the lands of non-Christian peoples to European settlers; earlier encounters between the Indigenous peoples of the region and Europeans; and the Great Dying of 1616-1619, which emptied the village of Patuxet by 1620. Short, two- to six-page chapters alternate between the story of the English settlers and exploring the complex political makeup of the region and the culture, agriculture, and technology of the Wampanoag—all before covering the evolution of the holiday. Refreshingly, the lens Newell offers is a Native one, describing how the Wampanoag and other Native peoples received the English rather than the other way around. Key words ranging from estuary to discover are printed in boldface in the narrative and defined in a closing glossary. Nelson (a member of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa) contributes soft line-and-color illustrations of the proceedings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Essential. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-72637-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021


An empowering choice.

Shamir and Faulkner take readers on a trip through various moments in U.S. history as they explore the democratic process.

The text begins in 1884, when a young man rides for hours to deliver his local ballot box in the state of Nebraska. The book then jumps in nonlinear fashion from key moment to key moment, explaining its importance: Native Americans were granted citizenship in 1924 (their status as members of sovereign nations goes unmentioned); the emergency number 911 was created in 1968; George Washington was the only presidential candidate ever to run unopposed. The information is divided into general paragraphs that begin with a question and text boxes that supply trivia and provide additional context to the paragraphs. Children’s and teens’ roles are often cited, such as their participation in the civil rights movement and the lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18. The information ranges from national elections to local, expanding on what can be done on a national level and what can occur locally. Along the way, Faulkner includes a diverse mixture of citizens. A range of ethnic groups, minorities, and people of various body sizes and abilities are included, making the book visually welcoming to all readers. An early image depicting a blind woman with both guide dog and cane appears to be the only visual misstep. The backmatter includes a timeline and sources for additional reading.

An empowering choice. (Informational picture book. 7-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3807-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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