WHERE WASHINGTON WALKED

Bial follows up his successful Where Lincoln Walked (1997) with a companion volume on the first president’s peregrinations, with significantly less success. The slim offering is necessarily light on the text, painting with broad strokes Washington’s career and offsetting the text with photographs of the places its subject lived and campaigned. The paucity of information on Washington’s youth is ruefully acknowledged and quickly dispatched as the narrative moves on to his military career. Unfortunately, this limitation leaches from this account what was so effective for child readers in the earlier work: the focus on the great man’s childhood. Some of the photographs appear out of sync with the text; the worst instance features photographs of the New York tavern where he bade his officers farewell in 1783 even as the text describes his weary retreat to Mount Vernon in 1797. Furthermore, a reliance on mythmaking paintings does nothing to separate fact from fiction for young readers. Even the backmatter suffers by comparison to the earlier work, omitting as it does the map of its subject’s travels. A disappointment. (bibliography, further reading, places to visit) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8027-8899-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2004

GROUND ZERO

Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people.

Parallel storylines take readers through the lives of two young people on Sept. 11 in 2001 and 2019.

In the contemporary timeline, Reshmina is an Afghan girl living in foothills near the Pakistan border that are a battleground between the Taliban and U.S. armed forces. She is keen to improve her English while her twin brother, Pasoon, is inspired by the Taliban and wants to avenge their older sister, killed by an American bomb on her wedding day. Reshmina helps a wounded American soldier, making her village a Taliban target. In 2001, Brandon Chavez is spending the day with his father, who works at the World Trade Center’s Windows on the World restaurant. Brandon is heading to the underground mall when a plane piloted by al-Qaida hits the tower, and his father is among those killed. The two storylines develop in parallel through alternating chapters. Gratz’s deeply moving writing paints vivid images of the loss and fear of those who lived through the trauma of 9/11. However, this nuance doesn’t extend to the Afghan characters; Reshmina and Pasoon feel one-dimensional. Descriptions of the Taliban’s Afghan victims and Reshmina's gentle father notwithstanding, references to all young men eventually joining the Taliban and Pasoon's zeal for their cause counteract this messaging. Explanations for the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan in the author’s note and in characters’ conversations too simplistically present the U.S. presence.

Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people. (author’s note) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-24575-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

FARMER GEORGE PLANTS A NATION

A pleasing new picture book looks at George Washington’s career through an agricultural lens. Sprinkling excerpts from his letters and diaries throughout to allow its subject to speak in his own voice, the narrative makes a convincing case for Washington’s place as the nation’s First Farmer. His innovations, in addition to applying the scientific method to compost, include a combination plow-tiller-harrow, the popularization of the mule and a two-level barn that put horses to work at threshing grain in any weather. Thomas integrates Washington’s military and political adventures into her account, making clear that it was his frustration as a farmer that caused him to join the revolutionary cause. Lane’s oil illustrations, while sometimes stiff, appropriately portray a man who was happiest when working the land. Backmatter includes a timeline, author’s notes on both Mount Vernon and Washington the slaveholder, resources for further exploration and a bibliography. (Picture book/biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59078-460-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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