WHEN JACKIE SAVED GRAND CENTRAL

THE TRUE STORY OF JACQUELINE KENNEDY'S FIGHT FOR AN AMERICAN ICON

An account of the former first lady’s impassioned campaign to save one of New York’s iconic buildings.

Wing and Boiger rightly acknowledge that it wasn’t just Jackie Onassis’ campaign, but here she stands at its center in both narrative and art—particularly in the latter, where she positively shines in a stylish red coat, whether fronting a protest march or striking a gracefully defiant pose before the U.S. Supreme Court. The author begins with her subject’s renovation of the Kennedy-era White House and then, following quick looks at Grand Central’s history and use, describes how the prospect of that magnificent, if somewhat seedy, landmark’s demolition motivated Onassis to enlist the mayor, the city, and the nation in a protracted, ultimately successful battle. Next up: the building’s $200 million restoration, which she helped to start but did not live to see completed in 1998. The author’s repeated use of “cerulean” to describe Grand Central’s ceiling, along with the footless, pipestem legs of Jackie and other figures in the diverse if generalized crowd scenes, does strike a twee note. Nonetheless, it’s an inspiring historical episode that also makes a strong case for the general value of preserving our country’s architectural treasures.

Grand, in several ways. (author’s & illustrator’s notes, sources) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-547-44921-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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