AMERICANA ADVENTURE

A LOOK AGAIN BOOK

Garland’s attempt to conduct a seek-and-find tour across the United States and through its history quickly collapses into a confusing jumble of faces, places and quotes. A perfunctory plotline provides an everylad with a rhymed itinerary that leads from the Liberty Bell to San Francisco—but many of the stops along the way are either generic or random collages of iconic images from various decades. Each stop is also crowded with full-bleed mixes of digitally painted bystanders and portraits of historical figures, snatches of rock ’n’ roll lyrics, coins, eagles and the occasional (adult) book title. The presidents all show up in one scene or another, captioned with nicknames like “Sword of the Revolution” for George Washington, or “Poppy” and “Dubya” for the Bushes. Rather than provide a visual key at the end, the author supplies a hard-to-use subject index. Unlike Peter Spier’s Train of States (2004) or Dan Yaccarino’s Go, Go, America! (2008), this is unlikely to provide children with either basic facts or more than a few moments of entertainment. (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-525-47945-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2008

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A BIG CHEESE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE

THE TRUE TALE OF A TREMENDOUS CHEDDAR

The author and illustrator bring to life an incident right out of history in this droll picture book enhanced by lively, color- washed pen-and-ink drawings. In Cheshire, Massachusetts, the home of mouth-watering cheese, the local residents grumble that President Jefferson is serving cheese from Norton, Connecticut, at the White House. “I have an idea,” says Elder John Leland to the assembled town folk, “If each of you will give one day’s milking from each of your many cows, we can put our curds together and create a whopping big cheddar.” Although some people scoff, the farmers bring load after load of milk—from 934 cows—to town and they set about making an enormous cheese. There are problems along the way, but eventually the giant cheese is dragged to a barn to age. At last it is perfect, and Mr. Leland and friends start the long haul to the East Room of White House. In a foreword, the author explains the truth and fiction in the tale, e.g., that the presidential residence wasn’t called the White House until about 1809. A humorous tale with a wide range of appeal and uses in and out of the classroom. (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7894-2573-4

Page Count: 30

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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THE GREAT DIVIDE

A MATHEMATICAL MARATHON

From Dodds (The Shape of Things, 1994, not reviewed, etc.), a rhyming, reckless text that makes a math process pleasurably solvable; Mitchell’s illustrative debut features a smashing cast of 1930s characters and a playfulness that will keep readers guessing. The premise is a Great Race: at the sound of the gun, 80 bicycle racers take off at top speed. The path diverges at the top of a cliff, and half the racers hurtle forever downward and right out of the race and the book. The remaining 40 racers determinedly continue in boats, their curls, spyglasses, eye patches, matronly upswept hairdos, and Clara Bow—lips intact. Whirlpools erupt to divide them again and wreck their ships, so it’s time to grab the next horse and ride on. The race continues, despite abrupt changes in modes of transportation and in the number of racers that dwindle by disastrous divisions, until a single winner glides over the finish line in a single-prop plane. The pace is so breathless and engaging that the book’s didactic origins all but disappear; few readers will notice that they’ve just finished a math problem, and most will want to go over all the action again. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7636-0442-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1999

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