NOAH WEBSTER

Bringing history to life for young readers is no easy task. Providing a clear outline of events and offering plentiful resources for further study is a good start. Whether young readers will really grasp Webster’s enormous accomplishments remains in question. Webster earned a Master’s degree from Yale; he also studied law and a remarkable number of languages. He wrote textbooks, influenced the development of the new nation, created the first comprehensive dictionary of the American language and worked to improve educational opportunities and practices. Shea’s straightforward text describes Webster’s life from childhood on his parents’ farm through studying, writing and teaching, extensive travel and his long, full family life. She does her best to put his achievements into context and includes quotations from Webster’s own writing. Vachula’s realistic oil paintings likewise endeavor to offer a glimpse of life during Revolutionary times. Ultimately, the sheer breadth of Webster’s life and achievement just can’t be adequately covered in such brisk fashion, making this an intriguing introduction but far from the last word on this innovative thinker. (chronology, bibliography, index) (Picture book/biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59078-441-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2009

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HAMMERIN’ HANK

THE LIFE OF HANK GREENBERG

Hank Greenberg was not the first Jewish baseball player in the major leagues, but he was perhaps the first star ball player who was Jewish, and certainly the first elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. All through his career he faced anti-Semitism in many forms, including epithets and threats, from bigoted fans, other players and team owners. He remained observant and refused to play on Yom Kippur even though his team, the Detroit Tigers, was fighting for the pennant. He stated many times that he identified with Jackie Robinson, and he was one of the few opposing players who supported him openly from the beginning. McDonough’s dispassionate retelling of Greenberg’s biography carefully includes all the salient facts, and a few pertinent quotes. Zeldis’s naïf, detailed gouache illustrations are bright and childlike and provide a complementary focus for the text. A good introduction to a somewhat neglected baseball player. (statistics, chronology, glossary, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-8027-8997-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2006

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A sensitive, discussable access point for children learning about Holocaust history.

JARS OF HOPE

HOW ONE WOMAN HELPED SAVE 2,500 CHILDREN DURING THE HOLOCAUST

The brave work of Irena Sendler, one of the righteous gentiles of World War II, is succinctly depicted in this new picture book.

“There are two kinds of people in this world, good and bad.” As a child, wise words from her father gave Irena a guiding principle to live by and prompted the adult Sendler to find ways to save 2,500 innocent Jewish children and babies from the horror of their Holocaust fate. She worked with a network of smugglers and shelters to hide them in carpentry boxes, vegetable sacks, and laundry piles, transporting them to orphanages and the homes of willing Christian foster families, recording the children’s names so they could be found later and burying her lists in the titular jars. And when she herself was imprisoned by the Nazis, Zegota, the Polish resistance group, bribed guards to free her so she could continue her important work. Digital and traditional art in opaque dark browns and grays illustrates the sinister period and shadowy existence of these saved children. Roy’s chronological narrative concentrates on the period from 1940 to 1944 and stresses Sendler’s heroism; it also includes invented scenes and dialogue, marking it as fiction.

A sensitive, discussable access point for children learning about Holocaust history. (afterword, author’s note, glossary, index, source notes) (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62370-425-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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