A breezy way to, as Abigail Adams urged, “remember the ladies.” (list of presidents and first ladies, source notes) (Picture...

A gathering of spirited, intelligent women who accompanied—and, sometimes, shepherded—our country’s presidents into the White House.

A former staffer in the first lady’s office at the White House, Shamir takes a thematic approach, adding specific anecdotes and instances to general observations. She adopts a question-and-answer format to show how “first ladies”—mostly wives but in at least 13 cases a daughter, niece, or other relative—defined their roles as both White House hostesses and presidential advisers while coping with new responsibilities, often leveraging their positions to promote women’s rights or other causes. Answering the question “Do first ladies really make a difference,” Shamir explores Martha Washington’s efforts with veterans and Eleanor Roosevelt’s outreach during the Great Depression and World War II, for instance. In Faulkner’s collective portraits, many of these women, all recognizably depicted, gaze straight out at viewers with public smiles or private expressions of exasperation or amusement as they pose with spouses, politicians, animals, and children. Following notes about post–White House endeavors (“Hillary Clinton was the first first lady to be elected to the U.S. Senate”), review copies leave a blank page for a one-page post-election update.

A breezy way to, as Abigail Adams urged, “remember the ladies.” (list of presidents and first ladies, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54724-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016


            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999


Beguiling art props up a profile that reads like a school report.

A quick life of the great fantasist is given wings by allusive painted illustrations.

Aimed at children who know The Hobbit but aren’t quite up to tackling it on their own, the narrative takes “Ronald” from birth in South Africa through transplantation to England, experiences in World War I and postwar life up to the publication of Lord of the Rings. The selection of detail isn’t particularly discriminating. Intriguing information such as the famous anecdote about how the first line of The Hobbit popped into his head out of nowhere or notes about Gandalf’s origin and a relative’s farm called “Bag’s End” is interspersed with eye-glazing references to childhood changes of address or the formation of the Tolkien Society. The art provides a more studied route into the author’s imagination and achievements. Prettily rendered in soft lines and muted colors, it’s framed as a winding board game decorated with thematic words, depictions of elves and dragons, views of the author and his family at various ages, simple codes and highlighted scenes, all capped by facing portraits of Tolkien (“I am in fact a hobbit in all but size”) and Bilbo Baggins.

Beguiling art props up a profile that reads like a school report.   (timeline, bibliography, notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1951-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

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