Interesting but never compelling or heartfelt.

ON OUR WAY TO OYSTER BAY

MOTHER JONES AND HER MARCH FOR CHILDREN'S RIGHTS

From the CitizenKid series

In 1903, 8-year-old millworkers Aiden and Gussie carry pickets demanding an end to child labor practices.

To provide needed income for their families, young children toiled 12 hours a day, six days a week in workplaces that were dangerous and demoralizing. Without access to education, they had no chance for betterment. In Kulling’s tale of protest, when union activist Mother Jones plans a 100-mile march all the way to Oyster Bay, New York, to confront President Theodore Roosevelt, Aiden and Gussie go with her. The march is arduous, with long days of walking, campouts, train rides, some recreation, and speeches that elicit moral and practical support along the way. In the end, the president refuses to meet them, and they must return home. The tale is based on true events and people; it is told here from fictional Aiden’s point of view, wide-eyed and admiring of Mother Jones, enjoying the adventure, and ever hopeful. Kulling follows the path of the march, quoting Jones extensively, but even Aiden and Gussie’s presence doesn’t really bring the events to life. The main characters are white, though there are some brown-skinned people depicted in the crowd scenes. Sala’s illustrations are much too bright and cheerful, with even the cotton mill appearing clean and airy.

Interesting but never compelling or heartfelt. (author’s note, websites) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77138-325-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A crisp historical vignette.

BEN'S REVOLUTION

BENJAMIN RUSSELL AND THE BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL

A boy experiences the Boston Tea Party, the response to the Intolerable Acts, and the battle at Breed’s Hill in Charlestown.

Philbrick has taken his Bunker Hill (2013), pulled from its 400 pages the pivotal moments, added a 12-year-old white boy—Benjamin Russell—as the pivot, and crafted a tale of what might have happened to him during those days of unrest in Boston from 1773 to 1775 (Russell was a real person). Philbrick explains, in plainspoken but gradually accelerating language, the tea tax, the Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, and the quartering of troops in Boston as well as the institution of a military government. Into this ferment, he introduces Benjamin Russell, where he went to school, his part-time apprenticeship at Isaiah Thomas’ newspaper, sledding down Beacon Hill, and the British officer who cleaned the cinders from the snow so the boys could sled farther and farther. It is these humanizing touches that make war its own intolerable act. Readers see Benjamin, courtesy of Minor’s misty gouache-and-watercolor tableaux, as he becomes stranded outside Boston Neck and becomes a clerk for the patriots. Significant characters are introduced, as is the geography of pre-landfilled Boston, to gain a good sense of why certain actions took place where they did. The final encounter at Breed’s Hill demonstrates how a battle can be won by retreating.

A crisp historical vignette. (maps, author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Historical fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16674-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain.

THE SOUR CHERRY TREE

With ample emotional subtext, a young girl recalls everyday details about her beloved grandfather the day after his death.

The child bites her mother’s toe to wake her up, wishing that she could have done the same for her baba bozorg, her beloved grandfather, who had forgotten to wake up the day before. She kisses a pancake that reminds her of her grandfather’s face. Her mother, who had been admonishing her for playing with her food, laughs and kisses the pancake’s forehead. Returning to Baba Bozorg’s home, the child sees minute remnants of her grandfather: a crumpled-up tissue, smudgy eyeglasses, and mint wrappers in his coat pockets. From these artifacts the narrator transitions to less tangible, but no less vivid, memories of playing together and looks of love that transcend language barriers. Deeply evocative, Hrab’s narrative captures a child’s understanding of loss with gentle subtlety, and gives space for processing those feelings. Kazemi’s chalk pastel art pairs perfectly with the text and title: Pink cherry hues, smoky grays, and hints of green plants appear throughout the book, concluding in an explosion of vivid green that brings a sense of renewal, joy, and remembrance to the heartfelt ending. Though the story is universally relevant, cultural cues and nods to Iranian culture will resonate strongly with readers of Iranian/Persian heritage. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77147-414-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A deeply felt but not overwrought telling of a story that will be new to most young readers.

SEVEN AND A HALF TONS OF STEEL

A reverent account of the creation of a seagoing 9/11 memorial fashioned by incorporating part of one of the fallen towers into the hull of a Navy ship.

Following a wordless, powerful sequence in which a seemingly ordinary jet flies peacefully through a cloudless sky and then directly into a tower, Nolan opens by noting that there is “something different, something special” about the seemingly ordinary USS New York. In the tragedy’s aftermath, she explains, a steel beam was pulled from the wreckage and sent to a foundry in Louisiana. There, workers melted it down, recast and shaped it, and sent it to New Orleans, where, notwithstanding the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, it was incorporated into the bow of a new ship of war. Gonzalez echoes the author’s somber, serious tone with dark scenes of ground zero, workers with shadowed faces, and views of the ship from low angles to accentuate its monumental bulk. Though Nolan goes light on names and dates, she adds a significant bit of background to the overall story of 9/11 and its enduring effects. Backmatter includes a cutaway diagram and some additional facts.

A deeply felt but not overwrought telling of a story that will be new to most young readers. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-56145-912-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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