Readers will look forward to more from this talented author, who has penned a perfectly paced, rousing biography.

SARAH GIVES THANKS

HOW THANKSGIVING BECAME A NATIONAL HOLIDAY

The inspiring story of an early-19th-century woman who supported her family, made a name for herself and gave us all an opportunity to give thanks each November.

Allegra’s debut opens with Gardner's watercolor-and-pencil illustration of a family of six gathered around a turkey-laden table, hands joined, faces reflecting their sorrow: They had just buried their father, yet their mother, Sarah Josepha Hale, insisted on giving thanks for their blessings. Amusing and perfectly chosen anecdotes highlight the qualities that made Hale such a success—curiosity, thirst for knowledge and determination. Her husband, David, encouraged her writing, which would become the family’s means of support after his death in 1822. The writer of the first anti-slavery novel as well as “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” she became a household name as “editress” of two ladies’ magazines. Hale used the magazines to encourage women to think. Soon, she became someone whose opinions were taken seriously by her readership, including those about celebrating Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Four presidents refused her yearly requests, but Abraham Lincoln and a country embroiled in a Civil War needed to take a day to count blessings, and so Thanksgiving was made official. Gardner nicely combines vignettes and double-page spreads, his colors reflecting mood, while lots of period (and humorous) details will bring readers back for another perusal.

Readers will look forward to more from this talented author, who has penned a perfectly paced, rousing biography. (author’s note, selected sources) (Picture books/biography. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7239-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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An astonishing work of art and a crucial addition to every bookshelf.

WHEN WE SAY BLACK LIVES MATTER

The author of The Patchwork Bike (illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd, 2016) writes to children about the meaning of the phrase Black Lives Matter.

Pastel illustrations, also by Clarke, on dark, textured paper are paired with oversized, contrasting text addressed to “Little one.” In the visuals, a family that begins as a couple expecting a baby grows into a family with a child and then becomes part of a community in protest, marching for Black lives, before a final page shows a jubilant Black boy in a cap and gown. The adult narrator explains that “when we say Black Lives Matter, / we’re saying Black people are wonderful-strong.” Other meanings of the rallying cry, when it is called out, screamed, sung, laughed, and known, include a demand for respect, a defiant joy, a channeling of ancestors, an acknowledgment of trouble, and knowing one’s worth. Clarke’s text is poignant and mesmerizing, with design elements that raise the text to an artistic level, shaping it around the art and highlighting active and emotional words in color: enough, dancing, radiant, precious. The art is truly outstanding, gripping the heart from the very first spread and not letting go. With colored shapes and stained-glass motifs, these Black figures feel real and weighty. Within this deep dive are tragedy, fear, anger, and mourning alongside hope, comfort, strength, and triumph. This slim book contains a necessary and healing exploration of our current moment that will remain relevant for decades to come.

An astonishing work of art and a crucial addition to every bookshelf. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2238-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Essential—the energetic narrative and uplifting illustrations will inspire and empower young readers to get out the vote.

VOTE FOR OUR FUTURE!

The children of fictional Stanton Elementary School educate themselves and their community about the vote in this picture book.

With its illustrations of simple shapes in bright colors imbuing a sense of positive action and a diverse cast of characters, this picture book rocks—and that’s even before the narrative takes hold. When Stanton’s students learn that their school becomes a polling station every two years, they want to be part of it—but learn they can’t vote until they are 18. Undeterred, they take action. The kids do their research and then engage their community to encourage those of voting age to go to the polls. They go door to door with voter-guide pamphlets, they hold a bake sale (with clever reminders like “Donut forget to vote”), and remind their families to vote. Each child-empowering scenario is paired with an adult’s excuse (“I’ll be away”; “I’m not even registered”; “I can’t walk so far”), and with each comment, the kids have an answer that draws on their research: “You can vote by mail”; “It’s not hard to register”; “A volunteer can drive you!” These kids mean business; it’s their future after all. Children and adults depicted represent a range of skin colors, hair textures, and gender presentations; one girl and her aunt wear hijab. Backmatter includes a quick listing of kid-relevant federal legislation.

Essential—the energetic narrative and uplifting illustrations will inspire and empower young readers to get out the vote. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9280-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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