A deeply nostalgic look at once-upon-a-time Midwest farm life.

PRAIRIE DAYS

Newbery Medalist MacLachlan tells the story of a pastoral childhood on a prairie farm.

The unnamed narrator is depicted as a pale child with fair hair living in a small prairie town in, perhaps, the 1940s. In a nostalgic, retrospective voice, the protagonist recalls the wildlife and flowers near the farmhouse; the vast landscapes; swimming in the farm pond; and the sights, smells, and sounds of happy summers spent primarily outdoors. The narrator remembers trips to small towns, the local filling station, the granary by the railroad, and the nearby shops. Characters all appear to be white, and it is strictly from this perspective that the story is told; it comes complete with cowboys who say, “Hello, little lady,” and nearby towns with names like Rattlesnake and Spotted Horse. The story is insular, told as it is from this one child’s point of view, yet sprawling in its visual depictions of the “sky so big” (the book’s wide, horizontal orientation does its best to capture this) and the point “where the prairie met the mountains.” Archer’s vivid, textured mixed-media illustrations include tissue papers and homemade stamps. They are richly colored and detailed; these are spreads to linger over. Readers may see something new with each look.

A deeply nostalgic look at once-upon-a-time Midwest farm life. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4191-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance.

MUMBET'S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

With the words of Massachusetts colonial rebels ringing in her ears, a slave determines to win her freedom.

In 1780, Mumbet heard the words of the new Massachusetts constitution, including its declaration of freedom and equality. With the help of a young lawyer, she went to court and the following year, won her freedom, becoming Elizabeth Freeman. Slavery was declared illegal and subsequently outlawed in the state. Woelfle writes with fervor as she describes Mumbet’s life in the household of John Ashley, a rich landowner and businessman who hosted protest meetings against British taxation. His wife was abrasive and abusive, striking out with a coal shovel at a young girl, possibly Mumbet’s daughter. Mumbet deflected the blow and regarded the wound as “her badge of bravery.” Ironically, the lawyer who took her case, Theodore Sedgwick, had attended John Ashley’s meetings. Delinois’ full-bleed paintings are heroic in scale, richly textured and vibrant. Typography becomes part of the page design as the font increases when the text mentions freedom. Another slave in the Ashley household was named in the court case, but Woelfle, keeping her young audience in mind, keeps it simple, wisely focusing on Mumbet.

A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance. (author’s note, selected bibliography, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6589-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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