Solidly historical and far more heartfelt than those on the overcrowded shelf of assignment-fodder profiles.

SITTING BULL

LAKOTA WARRIOR AND DEFENDER OF HIS PEOPLE

A reverent tribute to the great Hunkpapa chief and holy man, cast as a memoir with a rich array of new and contemporary illustrations.

Nelson also pays tribute (as he has elsewhere) to ledger-book art, with scenes done in that simple style. Here they depict, along with mystical symbols and traditional hunts and battles, a steamboat, a busy city street, the slaughter of women and children at Killdeer Mountain, Custer’s death (depicted as a suicide) at Little Big Horn, and Sitting Bull’s murder by a Lakota police officer. Sitting Bull himself, aptly named for a buffalo that would never back down, retraces in dignified language his early years, long struggles with the “wasichus” over invasions and broken promises, and his end. His is a strong voice, whether scorning subservient “Hang-Around-the-Forts” or commending his great contemporaries—of Crazy Horse: “He fought like a thunderstorm. I liked that man.” He closes with a stirring exhortation to “honor those traditions that still serve our people,” to “Brave up!” and to “go forth with a good heart.” The first-person narration makes this problematic as nonfiction, but the backmatter provides a wealth of information. Along with period photos distributed throughout and a detailed timeline of Lakota history up to Wounded Knee, Nelson’s lengthy closing notes on Lakota practices and spiritual beliefs will leave readers with a rich picture of this noble figure’s personal and cultural context.

Solidly historical and far more heartfelt than those on the overcrowded shelf of assignment-fodder profiles. (endnotes, bibliography, index) (Historical fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0731-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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Noncanonical entries make this a natural companion or follow-up for Kathleen Krull’s essential Lives of the Artists,...

KID ARTISTS

TRUE TALES OF CHILDHOOD FROM CREATIVE LEGENDS

From the Kid Legends series , Vol. 3

For budding artists, here’s a heartening reminder that 17 unconventional greats—not to mention all the rest—started out as children too.

The pseudonymous Stabler (Robert Schnakenberg in real life) adopts a liberal admissions policy for his latest gathering of anecdotal profiles (Kid Presidents, 2014, etc.). In a chapter on the influence of nature and wildlife on early artistic visions, Leonardo da Vinci and the young Vincent van Gogh rub shoulders with Beatrix Potter and Emily Carr; in another focusing on overcoming shyness or other personal, social, or economic obstacles, Jackson Pollock hangs out with Charles Schulz, Yoko Ono, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. In a third chapter that highlights the importance of a supportive parent, teacher, or other cheerleader, fathers do for prodigious young Pablo Picasso and polio-stricken Frida Kahlo, his mother for Andy Warhol, art instructors for Jacob Lawrence and Keith Haring. The author owns an easy, readable style, and though he leaves out quite a lot—Diego Rivera goes unmentioned in the Kahlo entry, nor do van Gogh’s suicide, Basquiat’s heroin addiction, or anyone’s sexual orientation come up—he’s chosen his subjects with an eye toward diversity of background, upbringing, and, eventually, style and media. Horner lightens the overall tone further with cartoon vignettes of caricatured but recognizable figures.

Noncanonical entries make this a natural companion or follow-up for Kathleen Krull’s essential Lives of the Artists, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (1995). (bibliography) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59474-896-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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Plenty of work for sharp eyes and active intellects in this history-based series opener.

MARY BOWSER AND THE CIVIL WAR SPY RING

From the Spy on History series , Vol. 1

Using a provided packet of helpful tools, readers can search for clues along with a historical spy in the house of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.

Fans of ciphers and hidden clues will find both in abundance, beginning on the copyright page and continuing to a final, sealed-off section of explanations and solutions. Fictionalized but spun around actual figures and events, the tale centers on Bowser, a free African-American who worked undercover as a maid in Davis’ house and passed information to a ring of white Richmond spies. Here she looks for the key phrase that will unlock a Vigenère cipher—an alphabetic substitution code—while struggling to hide her intelligence and ability to read. As an extra challenge, she leaves the diary in which she records some of her experiences concealed for readers to discover, using allusive and sometimes-misleading clues that are hidden in Cliff’s monochrome illustrations and in cryptic marginal notations. A Caesar cipher wheel, a sheet of red acetate, and several other items in a front pocket supply an espionage starter kit that readers can use along the way; it is supplemented by quick introductions in the narrative to ciphers and codes, including Morse dashes and dots and the language of flowers.

Plenty of work for sharp eyes and active intellects in this history-based series opener. (answers, historical notes, biographies, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7611-8739-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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