Likely destined to be left in the dust soon but more up to date than most.

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THE VERY SHORT, ENTIRELY TRUE HISTORY OF UNICORNS

A compact survey of single-horned beasts in legend, nature, pop culture, and business.

Laskow begins “more than 2,300 years ago” with a reference to one-horned wild asses. She then moves along with genial dispatch through versions of the creature reported from China, Chile, medieval Europe, and elsewhere—plus variations such as Rishyasringa, a horned man in the Indian epics—and how the concept of unicorns has changed from scary wild beast to rainbow-pooping white steed. She describes how they can be captured by “maidens” (euphemistically defined as “unmarried girls and young women”) and the uses to which their supposed horns can supposedly be put. Along with tallying such verifiable examples as the rhinoceros, unicorn fish, and, of course, narwhal, she also explains how goats and other animals can sometimes, through accident or human design, grow but one horn. Trotting from topic to topic in fairly arbitrary fashion, she brings her account up to the present by stringing together references to unicorn-themed weddings, My Little Pony, unicorn lattes and cupcakes, video games, “unicorn” business startups, and other current usages. Beck slips occasional cartoon-style human figures of diverse skin color into the equally casual mix of maps, beastly portraits, period images, and freely redrawn pictures of old art and artifacts.

Likely destined to be left in the dust soon but more up to date than most. (bibliography) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9273-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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These short pieces may start young people on the search for more information about these intriguing figures.

LADIES OF LIBERTY

THE WOMEN WHO SHAPED OUR NATION

Highlighting women writers, educators, and reformers from the 18th and early 19th centuries, Roberts brings a group of women, many not so well-known, into focus and provides a new perspective on the early history of the United States in this picture-book version of her adult book of the same title (2008).

The women include Lucy Terry Prince, a persuasive speaker who created the first poem (an oral piece not written down for over 100 years after its creation) by an African-American; Elizabeth Bayley Seton, the first American-born saint and the founder of Catholic institutions including schools, hospitals, and orphanages; and Rebecca Gratz, a young philanthropist who started many organizations to help the Jewish community in Philadelphia. The author usually uses some quotes from primary-source materials and enlivens her text with descriptive events, such as Meriweather Lewis’ citation of Sacagawea’s “equal fortitude” with the males of the exploration party during a storm, saving many supplies when their boat capsized. The sepia-hued pen-and-ink drawings are inspired by the letters of the era, and the soft watercolor portraits of the women and the paintings that reveal more of their stories are traditional in feeling. In her introduction, the author emphasizes the importance of historical materials, such as letters, organizational records, journals, and books written at the time. Despite this, there is no bibliography or other means of sourcing quoted material.

These short pieces may start young people on the search for more information about these intriguing figures. (Informational picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-078005-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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A sensitive, discussable access point for children learning about Holocaust history.

JARS OF HOPE

HOW ONE WOMAN HELPED SAVE 2,500 CHILDREN DURING THE HOLOCAUST

The brave work of Irena Sendler, one of the righteous gentiles of World War II, is succinctly depicted in this new picture book.

“There are two kinds of people in this world, good and bad.” As a child, wise words from her father gave Irena a guiding principle to live by and prompted the adult Sendler to find ways to save 2,500 innocent Jewish children and babies from the horror of their Holocaust fate. She worked with a network of smugglers and shelters to hide them in carpentry boxes, vegetable sacks, and laundry piles, transporting them to orphanages and the homes of willing Christian foster families, recording the children’s names so they could be found later and burying her lists in the titular jars. And when she herself was imprisoned by the Nazis, Zegota, the Polish resistance group, bribed guards to free her so she could continue her important work. Digital and traditional art in opaque dark browns and grays illustrates the sinister period and shadowy existence of these saved children. Roy’s chronological narrative concentrates on the period from 1940 to 1944 and stresses Sendler’s heroism; it also includes invented scenes and dialogue, marking it as fiction.

A sensitive, discussable access point for children learning about Holocaust history. (afterword, author’s note, glossary, index, source notes) (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62370-425-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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