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

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT FIRST LADIES

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. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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A crisp historical vignette.

BEN'S REVOLUTION

BENJAMIN RUSSELL AND THE BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL

A boy experiences the Boston Tea Party, the response to the Intolerable Acts, and the battle at Breed’s Hill in Charlestown.

Philbrick has taken his Bunker Hill (2013), pulled from its 400 pages the pivotal moments, added a 12-year-old white boy—Benjamin Russell—as the pivot, and crafted a tale of what might have happened to him during those days of unrest in Boston from 1773 to 1775 (Russell was a real person). Philbrick explains, in plainspoken but gradually accelerating language, the tea tax, the Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, and the quartering of troops in Boston as well as the institution of a military government. Into this ferment, he introduces Benjamin Russell, where he went to school, his part-time apprenticeship at Isaiah Thomas’ newspaper, sledding down Beacon Hill, and the British officer who cleaned the cinders from the snow so the boys could sled farther and farther. It is these humanizing touches that make war its own intolerable act. Readers see Benjamin, courtesy of Minor’s misty gouache-and-watercolor tableaux, as he becomes stranded outside Boston Neck and becomes a clerk for the patriots. Significant characters are introduced, as is the geography of pre-landfilled Boston, to gain a good sense of why certain actions took place where they did. The final encounter at Breed’s Hill demonstrates how a battle can be won by retreating.

A crisp historical vignette. (maps, author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Historical fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16674-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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