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 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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The actual visuals could be livelier, but younger readers after a mental big picture of the struggle will be well served.


From the If You Lived series

An overview of the war’s course, cost, and immediate aftermath.

This latest in the relaunch of the If You Lived series follows the question-and-answer format of If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War (1994) by Kay Moore, illustrated by Anni Matsick, and covers similar subject matter, though with updated language (enslaved people rather than slaves ) and different questions. Patrick answers questions such as “Did Abraham Lincoln own enslaved people?” and “Did women fight in the Civil War?” He didn’t, they of course did…and along with hundreds of women, Patrick notes, Native Americans of several named nations also fought, on both sides. Though she is wrong in claiming that the fate of the submarine Hunley remains unknown (the wreckage was discovered in 1995), in general her accounts of the war’s major causes, campaigns, and effects on daily life are accurate if broadly brushed, and her expanded coverage of Reconstruction adds historical context that Moore’s work lacked. With a few exceptions, Harris goes for depictions of generic, stolid-looking light- or dark-skinned soldiers and civilians rather than specific portraits. There are no source or resource lists, but a few small maps and stylized battle scenes are interspersed.

The actual visuals could be livelier, but younger readers after a mental big picture of the struggle will be well served. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-71280-3

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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A story of bitter cold infused with warmth and with the fighting spirit of its courageous subject.



The tale of an indomitable sailor who survived challenge after challenge—including the wreck of Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance.

Irish-born sailor Tom Crean’s (1877-1938) life changed forever when he agreed to join a voyage destined for Antarctica. Signing on to the Discovery, Crean was involved in early exploration of the continent and ultimately made three treks to the Antarctic—the last of which extended more than two years and involved a death-defying journey back to civilization after the loss of the famous Endurance. Each journey was fraught with dangers, from starvation and malnutrition to frostbite and hypothermia. But still, Crean returned. Though the story does not shy away from the tragedies and horrors of exploration, noting the loss of both human and animal companions on each journey, Thermes’ narration is age-appropriate. Readers fascinated by the sea or by our least-populated continent will find this biography gripping, and educators and caregivers will appreciate the robust backmatter, which includes an afterword, a timeline, and a list of select sources that encourage further study. Relying on panels, as in a graphic novel, the illustrations, rendered in colored pencil and watercolor, capture the warmth of the ships and the cold expanses of the glaciers and ice. Thermes makes excellent use of the pages’ white spaces to capture the beauty and the loneliness of Antarctica, further pulling readers into Crean’s journey. Crean and his crewmates present White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A story of bitter cold infused with warmth and with the fighting spirit of its courageous subject. (facts about Antarctica) (Biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-11772-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022

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