BY THE SWORD

In this fictionalized episode from the Battle of Long Island, 22-year-old Lieutenant Benjamin Tallmadge wrestles belatedly with the reality of killing and the possibility of being killed on the battlefield. Then, during Washington’s retreat, he risks his life by going back to rescue his beloved horse from the Hessians. To judge from the heavy dose of appended historical information, resource lists, personal statements and other backmatter, both author and illustrator engaged in meticulous research, but it’s not much in evidence in the finished product. Farnsworth lays on (documented, to be sure) heavy rain, smoke and fog to create impressionistic scenes of battle and general misery, while Castrovilla leans more on melodrama than details that modern readers would be able to supply or infer. She also provides only tantalizing references to Tallmadge’s distinguished later career. In addition, the old map reprinted on the endpapers is both hard to read and partially covered by the jacket flaps. This young officer’s crisis of conscience makes a worthy theme to explore, but young students will gain more insight into the soldiers’ war from such conventional nonfiction as Richard Ammon’s Valley Forge (2004). (Nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-59078-427-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more