DUEL OF THE IRONCLADS

THE MONITOR VS. THE VIRGINIA

A picture-book history illustrates the beginning of a new era in naval warfare. The age of wooden warships had come to an end. The Confederacy captured the shipyards of Portsmouth, Virginia, resurrected the Merrimack, and turned it into an ironclad fighting ship, intending to destroy Union ships in Norfolk and steam up the Potomac River to bomb Washington, D.C. Northern spies knew the plans, and an arms race began. “All the navies of the world were suddenly out-of-date.” Union leaders hired inventor John Ericsson to create a new fighting machine. In 100 days, the Monitor was designed and created, towed to Hampton Roads, Virginia, and led into one of the greatest naval battles of all time. On March 9, 1862, with thousands of people watching from the shore, the two ships fought to a draw, never to meet again. Confederate forces later burned the Merrimack, or Virginia to avoid having it captured by Union forces, and the Monitor sank in a storm. O’Brien’s clear and lively writing, dramatic watercolor and gouache illustrations, maps, and handsome, large-format design combine to make an appealing volume. An afterword explains how marine archaeologists found the Monitor off of Cape Hatteras in 1973, and the U.S. government has made the site of the wreck a national marine sanctuary. A sure-fire winner for young Civil War buffs. (Nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 15, 2003

ISBN: 0-8027-8842-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS AND STILL STANDING

Strong rhythms and occasional full or partial rhymes give this account of P.T. Barnum’s 1884 elephant parade across the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge an incantatory tone. Catching a whiff of public concern about the new bridge’s sturdiness, Barnum seizes the moment: “’I will stage an event / that will calm every fear, erase every worry, / about that remarkable bridge. / My display will amuse, inform / and astound some. / Or else my name isn’t Barnum!’” Using a rich palette of glowing golds and browns, Roca imbues the pachyderms with a calm solidity, sending them ambling past equally solid-looking buildings and over a truly monumental bridge—which soars over a striped Big Top tent in the final scene. A stately rendition of the episode, less exuberant, but also less fictionalized, than Phil Bildner’s Twenty-One Elephants (2004), illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (author’s note, resource list) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-44887-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few...

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT FREEDOM

Shamir offers an investigation of the foundations of freedoms in the United States via its founding documents, as well as movements and individuals who had great impacts on shaping and reshaping those institutions.

The opening pages of this picture book get off to a wobbly start with comments such as “You know that feeling you get…when you see a wide open field that you can run through without worrying about traffic or cars? That’s freedom.” But as the book progresses, Shamir slowly steadies the craft toward that wide-open field of freedom. She notes the many obvious-to-us-now exclusivities that the founding political documents embodied—that the entitled, white, male authors did not extend freedom to enslaved African-Americans, Native Americans, and women—and encourages readers to learn to exercise vigilance and foresight. The gradual inclusion of these left-behind people paints a modestly rosy picture of their circumstances today, and the text seems to give up on explaining how Native Americans continue to be left behind. Still, a vital part of what makes freedom daunting is its constant motion, and that is ably expressed. Numerous boxed tidbits give substance to the bigger political picture. Who were the abolitionists and the suffragists, what were the Montgomery bus boycott and the “Uprising of 20,000”? Faulkner’s artwork conveys settings and emotions quite well, and his drawing of Ruby Bridges is about as darling as it gets. A helpful timeline and bibliography appear as endnotes.

A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few misfires. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54728-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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