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Like the Vasa, this feels not quite seaworthy.

Who’s to blame when everything goes wrong?

In the early 1600s, King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden ordered the construction of a mighty warship to be the flagship of his navy. After two years’ construction, the mighty Vasa was ready to sail on the afternoon of Aug. 10, 1628. Less than a mile into its maiden voyage, the Vasa, along with her crew and their families, sank into Stockholm’s harbor. After the calamity, Sweden began an investigation into why the ship so easily capsized. The results were inconclusive, although Freedman implies that the king’s desire for a superfluity of cannons may have been the cause. Centuries later, in the mid-1950s, the Vasa was raised and restored. Now housed in the Stockholm Museum, the Vasa is a popular tourist attraction. Freedman provides a lot of information to his readers, but with its compression into the picture-book format, the pacing is rushed. The ending—relating a reclaimed cannon to Sweden’s history of peace—feels tangential at best. Hopefully, curious readers will seek out the additional information about the Vasa, shipwrecks, and restoration provided in the bibliography. Low’s digital illustrations are sumptuous and stunning, and they could pass for traditional paintings. It’s unfortunate that the text does not live up to the artwork.

Like the Vasa, this feels not quite seaworthy. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62779-866-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Godwin Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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The historical narrative is of mild interest, but the incorporated toy is off-target in several ways.

A historical overview of archery with a cut-in grip and sturdy plastic wings that unfold to form an actual bow—punch-out cardboard arrows and targets included.

Nayeri opens what he optimistically calls his “weapon of mass instruction” by arguing—rightly, if not exactly cogently—that a bow-shaped book is less dangerous than a bad or careless idea. He continues with a worldwide survey of archery in, mostly, war from ancient times on. Along with cartoon portraits of single archers and battle scenes featuring comically pin-cushioned soldiers, all diverse of skin color and in period dress, Jung adds simple depictions of various types of bows and arrows from many lands and eras. Following a final chapter on Robin Hood and other archers of both myth and legend, 43 blunt, lightweight, detachable arrows, each about 1 ½ inches long, and 10 chicken butts or other small targets of diminishing size offer would-be Katniss Everdeens immediate opportunities to develop their skills on a tabletop or similarly confined range. But as the author admits, this is more a slingshot than a true bow, as the recurved arms don’t actually bend, and all of the propulsive force is provided by the elastic string. Also, enterprising young felons will doubtless ignore his prohibition against shooting at live targets, so even though the “draw” is (probably) too weak to actually drive the provided missiles into, say, an eyeball, there is still some small potential for mayhem.

The historical narrative is of mild interest, but the incorporated toy is off-target in several ways. (bibliography) (Informational novelty. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0119-9

Page Count: 89

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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A loving homage to the last baseball clown.

Max Patkin had a very long and rewarding career in baseball, but it wasn’t in the way he originally planned.

He was a good-enough pitcher to earn a place in the minor leagues. In 1942 he was sidelined by an injury and joined the Navy. After surgery he was good to go: to Hawaii to play baseball with other professional players as a way of entertaining the troops. He played with and against the likes of Pee Wee Reese and Joe DiMaggio. When DiMaggio hit a very long home run against him, Max followed him around the bases, mimicking his motions and garnering laughs and cheers from players and spectators. After the war he played in the minors again, but injuries ended his playing days. But his comic routines were remembered, and he was asked to perform at exhibition games all over the country. Everyone seemed to love his over-the-top slapstick and hilarious performances. Vernick displays warm affection for Patkin, describing his antics in amusing anecdotes that are followed by quoting his signature line, “True Story!” Bower’s colorful cartoons manage to capture the essence of Max’s goofy appearance and all-out efforts to elicit every bit of fun he could invent in the game he loved so much. It was a different time.

A loving homage to the last baseball clown. (author’s note, sources) (Picture book/ biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-81377-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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