A fine first introduction to an age-old tale of travel, adventure, and heroism.

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JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS

Murder, intrigue, betrayal, patricide, regicide, and more constitute Jason’s epic quest for the Golden Fleece.

Like most Greek myths, Jason’s journey to complete a near-impossible task unfolds through an episodic plot in which the gods interfere with the mortals constantly—for good or ill. When Jason’s evil uncle, Pelias, usurps the throne of his father, Aeson, king of Iolcus, Jason’s mother wisely sends him to the forest to be raised by Chiron the centaur. Upon Jason’s return to Iolcus to defeat Pelias, Hera, wife of Zeus, appears to him and promises her guidance and protection, which she delivers throughout his journey. Pelias refuses to relinquish the throne unless Jason brings him the Golden Fleece (the background story of which Byrd also includes in this volume). Jason then gathers the finest Greek men, commissions the Argo, and embarks upon a journey with colossal challenges. Byrd eases navigation of this text-heavy picture book by illustrating the unimaginable, such as bronze-beaked Stymphalian birds with dart-shooting feathers and Scylla, part hag, part fish, with six fanged dog’s heads protruding from her torso. Each double-page spread constitutes a chapter, making for good-sized chunks for episodic read-alouds. Sidebars give brief background on characters, the backmatter introduces the Olympians, and front and back endpapers show maps of Jason’s route.

A fine first introduction to an age-old tale of travel, adventure, and heroism. (Mythology. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4118-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Useful for discussions about women’s rights and political influence.

MISS PAUL AND THE PRESIDENT

THE CREATIVE CAMPAIGN FOR WOMEN'S RIGHT TO VOTE

In time for the national elections, the story of an ardent early-20th-century fighter for women’s suffrage.

Alice Paul was deeply committed to women’s voting rights, a passion inflamed in her youth when she witnessed her father but not her mother going to the polls. Reading in the Constitution that elections were open only to men, she schooled herself about suffrage and eventually joined the burgeoning movement. She organized parades, letter-writing campaigns, and White House protests, though her efforts failed initially. One attention-getting accomplishment was to steal Woodrow Wilson’s thunder when the newly elected president arrived at a Washington, D.C., train station expecting cheering crowds. Instead, the throngs were attending—some jeering at—a nearby parade Paul had organized. Even a meeting this nervy woman initiated with the president aroused little sympathy. The arrest of Paul and other suffragists during a protest—and strong support from the president’s daughter—finally convinced Wilson to urge Congress to pass a law granting women the vote. The simple narrative ably explains and arouses respect for Paul’s ardor and achievements. The cheery, cartoony illustrations, created in watercolor, colored pencil, and other media, show a generally smiling, white Paul in her signature floppy purple hat. Endpapers feature illustrated newspaper headlines that set events in context. Readers may regret the absence of a glossary.

Useful for discussions about women’s rights and political influence. (author’s note, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93720-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Less stylish than Ed Young’s classic Seven Blind Mice but a serviceable rendition nonetheless.

ELEPHANT IN THE DARK

An Iranian-American author recasts an anecdote from the Persian poet Rumi, itself based on a far older tale about perceiving parts of a truth rather than its whole.

Javaherbin adds characters and plot to the bare-bones original and reduces Rumi’s lengthy mystical exegesis to a line. So curious are local villagers about the strange beast Ahmad the merchant has brought from India that they sneak into the dark barn where the creature is kept. Each returns with a different impression: one trips over the animal’s nose and announces that it’s like a snake, but it is more like a tree to one who feels its leg, and so on. Their squabble is so intense that they don’t even notice when Ahmad arrives to lead the elephant out to the river—leaving each with “only a small piece of the truth.” Yelchin outfits the villagers in curly-toed slippers and loose, brightly patterned caftans. He also puts a nifty spin on the story by leaving the adults to argue obliviously but surrounding the elephant at the wordless end with smiling, plainly clearer-eyed children. Though the language is bland, the wildly gesticulating figures in the illustrations add a theatrical element, and the episode makes its points in a forthright way. An excellent source note traces the familiar tale back to its earliest versions.

Less stylish than Ed Young’s classic Seven Blind Mice but a serviceable rendition nonetheless. (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-63670-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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