FIRST WORDS

EARLY LEARNING AT THE MUSEUM

From the Early Learning at the Museum series

A visually interesting but disorganized reader that features images from a museum with a problematic history.

A vocabulary-building board book featuring artifacts from the collection of the British Museum.

Each item chosen from the museum’s historically and geographically expansive collection is paired with large, bold text, introducing children to representations of each term that hail from a variety of cultures. Along with companion title Animals, it showcases a range of artistic styles, from paintings and prints through plaster of Paris, brass, and wooden sculptures to well-worn household materials. Although the concept behind the curation is interesting, unfortunately, neither this title nor Animals rises above the aesthetic level of a typical board book of its ilk. This title in particular lacks cohesion, as the images are not organized alphabetically or according to theme, as many vocabulary books are, making the images and words feel arbitrary. Several pages feature multiple images that are separated only by bold blocks of color, which creates a cluttered look. Furthermore, a number of the artifacts featured in both books appear to have been made during the pre-independence era in countries that were once part of the British Empire, suggesting that they may have become part of the collection as a result of colonization, a fact that the book’s creators leave disturbingly unaddressed.

A visually interesting but disorganized reader that features images from a museum with a problematic history. (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0584-8

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

BIG APPLE DIARIES

An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy.

Through the author’s own childhood diary entries, a seventh grader details her inner life before and after 9/11.

Alyssa’s diary entries start in September 2000, in the first week of her seventh grade year. She’s 11 and dealing with typical preteen concerns—popularity and anxiety about grades—along with other things more particular to her own life. She’s shuffling between Queens and Manhattan to share time between her divorced parents and struggling with thick facial hair and classmates who make her feel like she’s “not a whole person” due to her mixed White and Puerto Rican heritage. Alyssa is endlessly earnest and awkward as she works up the courage to talk to her crush, Alejandro; gushes about her dreams of becoming a shoe designer; and tries to solve her burgeoning unibrow problem. The diaries also have a darker side, as a sense of impending doom builds as the entries approach 9/11, especially because Alyssa’s father works in finance in the World Trade Center. As a number of the diary entries are taken directly from the author’s originals, they effortlessly capture the loud, confusing feelings middle school brings out. The artwork, in its muted but effective periwinkle tones, lends a satisfying layer to the diary’s accessible and delightful format.

An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy. (author's note) (Graphic memoir. 8-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-77427-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

SHH! WE'RE WRITING THE CONSTITUTION

No one writes history for children better than the latest Wilder Award winner; funny, pungent and impeccably accurate, her contribution to the plethora of books written for the Constitution's bicentennial should be at the top of everyone's purchase list. Assembling attention-grabbing tidbits that illuminate personalities (Franklin observed that if the President's term wasn't limited there'd be no way to get rid of him short of shooting him) re-create conditions in the 18th century (delegates sweltered as windows were kept shut during a heat wave to keep out noise and flies), and give an excellent feel for the kind of horse-trading that was required before an acceptable document was produced (it took 60 ballots just to settle on the Electoral College). Fritz surveys the background that made some kind of unity necessary (during the Revolution, when Washington asked some New Jersey soldiers to swear allegiance to the US, they turned him down flat), as well as events from the gathering of delegates (they trickled in from May to August) to the adoption of the Constitution by the states. She summarizes important features of the Constitution, especially the checks and balances it embodies, and the argumentative response that delayed ratification. A few amplifying notes and the text of the Constitution (as sent to Congress on September 18, 1787) are appended. Lively and fascinating, this will be a delightful surprise to any child who stumbles on it as part of an assignment; it is sure to open minds to the interest and relevance of history.

Pub Date: April 23, 1987

ISBN: 0698116240

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1987

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