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LINCOLN CLEARS A PATH

ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S AGRICULTURAL LEGACY

This interesting history lacks nuance and perspective.

This biography of President Abraham Lincoln focuses on his lasting impact on the use of the land.

Beginning with his family’s creation of a farm out of woodland when he was 7 and ending with the Emancipation Proclamation, the narrative follows Lincoln’s life experiences as farmer, entrepreneur, and self-educated statesman, all the way to the presidency. The support American farmers sent to the troops in the Civil War apparently prompted Lincoln to “clear a path for America’s future” with several acts of legislation: creation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the Homestead Act, which granted 160 acres to “any citizen or immigrant, farmer or merchant, man or woman, who wanted a fair chance to make it on their own”; and the Pacific Railway Act. The creation of land-grant colleges is also given a full spread; the Emancipation Proclamation is given one page of two sentences. Innerst creates engaging, sepia-toned scenes with watercolor-based artwork, and the design of the spreads, with dark paper and handwritten lettering for quotations from Lincoln’s writings, gives the feel of old documents. Sadly, the story feels dated as well; the brief backmatter mentions of the devastation settlers and the railroads caused to Indigenous nations and ways of life are grossly inadequate; the racist definition of citizens and immigrants is not addressed; and the attempt to include the contradiction of slavery within the ideal of “liberty to all” falls short, as the glorification of Lincoln as land-use innovator causes those who were excluded to fall through the gaps. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 58.5% of actual size.)

This interesting history lacks nuance and perspective. (author’s note, historical facts, websites, selected bibliography) (Informational picture book. 6-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68437-153-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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BASKETBALL DREAMS

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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IF YOU LIVED DURING THE PLIMOTH THANKSGIVING

Essential.

A measured corrective to pervasive myths about what is often referred to as the “first Thanksgiving.”

Contextualizing them within a Native perspective, Newell (Passamaquoddy) touches on the all-too-familiar elements of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and its origins and the history of English colonization in the territory now known as New England. In addition to the voyage and landfall of the Mayflower, readers learn about the Doctrine of Discovery that arrogated the lands of non-Christian peoples to European settlers; earlier encounters between the Indigenous peoples of the region and Europeans; and the Great Dying of 1616-1619, which emptied the village of Patuxet by 1620. Short, two- to six-page chapters alternate between the story of the English settlers and exploring the complex political makeup of the region and the culture, agriculture, and technology of the Wampanoag—all before covering the evolution of the holiday. Refreshingly, the lens Newell offers is a Native one, describing how the Wampanoag and other Native peoples received the English rather than the other way around. Key words ranging from estuary to discover are printed in boldface in the narrative and defined in a closing glossary. Nelson (a member of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa) contributes soft line-and-color illustrations of the proceedings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Essential. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-72637-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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