REBELS AGAINST SLAVERY

Stories of African-Americans, some slaves and some free, who fought against slavery both in the US and the Caribbean, including Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, Toussaint Louverture, and Denmark Vesey. Many of their stories have been told before, but the McKissacks (Red-Tail Angels, p. 1637, etc.) perform the important service of bringing them together in one volume. The book highlights that slaves were not—as some myths hold—passive sufferers awaiting freedom wrought by white abolitionists; many fought their oppressors with every available means, through minor inconveniences and full-scale revolts, taking leading roles in the abolition movement. The writing here is occasionally awkward- -readers may have difficulty distinguishing among facts, opinions, and rationalization—but these are gripping tales, in a solid volume about the slavery era. (b&w photos, not seen, chronology, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-590-45735-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1995

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WAR AND THE PITY OF WAR

This startling and honest presentation of the horrors of war from Philip and McCurdy (American Fairy Tales, 1996, etc.) uses poems to thoughtfully balance the often romanticized vision of battle as an expression of bravery and honor. Terror, agony, mass slaughter, absurdity, pointlessness, and cruelty are the subjects of poets writing from ancient times to the present; there are also elegies for warriors, celebrating their brave deaths. Carl Sandburg, Walt Whitman, and Stephen Crane share pages with Anakreon and Simonides; there are contributors from Beirut and Bosnia, as well as from the death trains of WWII. Among McCurdy’s somber and realistic black-and-white illustrations are dead soldiers hanging on barbed wire, and a lone soldier standing in a graveyard, holding his head as he says goodbye to those who have died on the fields. The book makes vivid humankind’s innate darkness and makes war painful again. (indexes) (Poetry. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 1998

ISBN: 0-395-84982-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1998

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ALONE IN THE WORLD

ORPHANS AND ORPHANAGES IN AMERICA

A solid, but not stellar, volume surveys the development of orphanages in the United States from the beginning of the 19th century to their decline in the 20th. Reef capably examines the social conditions that led to the establishment of the various institutions serving the children of poverty, from orphan asylums and reformatories, to the orphan trains and settlement houses, and finally to the New Deal and A.F.D.C. The highly readable text gives readers a powerful glimpse into the living conditions of these orphans, from accommodations and clothing to playtime and school, carefully explaining the various underpinning philosophies that led to those conditions. The narrative makes effective use of primary source material ranging from individual orphanages’ histories (every asylum had an historian, it seems) to Davy Crockett and Charles Dickens; archival drawings and photographs further develop the stories (though, regrettably, the captions do not include dates or credits). Although most quoted dialogue is attributed in chapter notes, and an exhaustive bibliography is appended, glaringly absent is any hint of further reading for children whose interest has been piqued. A crying shame. (afterword, picture credits) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 18, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-35670-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

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