Eloquent for all its brevity, this fictional soldier’s reminiscence traces nearly the whole real history of the Buffalo Soldiers, from the Indian Wars to WWII, and is reinforced by both a meaty introduction and a closing bibliography. No longer a slave, but seeing no future in sharecropping, the narrator writes, “I walk to New Orleans and put by X on the line / when I hear tell the U.S. Army is looking for young Negro men / to serve on the Western frontier.” Through the course of a decades-long career, he faces challenges from a drill sergeant “mean as a skunk” to attacks by bandits and Apache while escorting surveyors and settlers, recalling good times and bad, and even a charge up San Juan Hill in the Spanish American War. He closes with an old man’s ruminations on the familiar sounding complaints of his grandson, who writes from another war about mean sergeants and bad food: “I just have to smile, and nod my head. / You see, once I was a soldier, too.” Himler’s full-bleed western scenes add proper amounts of drama, touches of humor and natural-looking details to this engrossing tribute. (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58980-391-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pelican

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006


PLB 0-531-33140-7 Ketcham’s first book is based on an allegedly true story of a childhood incident in the life of Johann Sebastian Bach. It starts with a couple of pages regaling the Bach home and all the Johanns in the family, who made their fame through music. After his father’s death, Johann Sebastian goes to live with his brother, Johann Christoph, where he boasts that he is the best organist in the world. Johann Christoph contradicts him: “Old Adam Reincken is the best.” So Johann Sebastian sets out to hear the master himself. In fact, he is humbled to tears, but there is hope that he will be the world’s best organist one day. Johann Sebastian emerges as little more than a brat, Reincken as more of a suggestion than a character. Bush’s illustrations are most transporting when offering details of the landscape, but his protagonist is too impish to give the story much authority. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-531-30140-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999


Adler (also with Widener, Lou Gehrig, 1997, etc.) sets his fictional story during the week of July 14, 1932, in the Bronx, when the news items that figure in this tale happened. A boy gets a dime for his birthday, instead of the bicycle he longs for, because it is the Great Depression, and everyone who lives in his neighborhood is poor. While helping his friend Jacob sell newspapers, he discovers that his own father, who leaves the house with a briefcase each day, is selling apples on Webster Avenue along with the other unemployed folk. Jacob takes the narrator to Yankee Stadium with the papers, and people don’t want to hear about the Coney Island fire or the boy who stole so he could get something to eat in jail. They want to hear about Babe Ruth and his 25th homer. As days pass, the narrator keeps selling papers, until the astonishing day when Ruth himself buys a paper from the boy with a five-dollar bill and tells him to keep the change. The acrylic paintings bask in the glow of a storied time, where even row houses and the elevated train have a warm, solid presence. The stadium and Webster Avenue are monuments of memory rather than reality in a style that echoes Thomas Hart Benton’s strong color and exaggerated figures. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-201378-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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