This interesting history lacks nuance and perspective.

LINCOLN CLEARS A PATH

ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S AGRICULTURAL LEGACY

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. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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IF YOU LIVED DURING THE PLIMOTH THANKSGIVING

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. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era.

I AM RUBY BRIDGES

The New Orleans school child who famously broke the color line in 1960 while surrounded by federal marshals describes the early days of her experience from a 6-year-old’s perspective.

Bridges told her tale to younger children in 2009’s Ruby Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes. “I didn’t find out what being ‘the first’ really meant until the day I arrived at this new school,” she writes. Unfrightened by the crowd of “screaming white people” that greets her at the school’s door (she thinks it’s like Mardi Gras) but surprised to find herself the only child in her classroom, and even the entire building, she gradually realizes the significance of her act as (in Smith’s illustration) she compares a small personal photo to the all-White class photos posted on a bulletin board and sees the difference. As she reflects on her new understanding, symbolic scenes first depict other dark-skinned children marching into classes in her wake to friendly greetings from lighter-skinned classmates (“School is just school,” she sensibly concludes, “and kids are just kids”) and finally an image of the bright-eyed icon posed next to a soaring bridge of reconciliation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era. (author and illustrator notes, glossary) (Autobiographical picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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