Garcia is apparently lost to history aside from her petition, but its very existence marks her as “truly an unforgettable...

WHEN THE SLAVE ESPERANÇA GARCIA WROTE A LETTER

By way of tribute, two admirers spin a tale around a truly rare document: a petition sent by an 18th-century enslaved woman to a Brazilian governor.

The letter, a brief one reporting a new master’s ill treatment and begging for permission to rejoin her husband and have her children baptized, was discovered only in 1979 and is presented here in a modernized translation. Around it Rosa embroiders a rudimentary storyline that feels oddly disconnected. She begins with Garcia herself explaining that her previous, Jesuit owners had taught her to read and write before she was separated from her husband, then switches to the third person at an arbitrary point, then just as abruptly shifts from narrative to exposition at the end. Also, there being no record of a reply to the letter, Rosa opts just to leave Garcia waiting for one, closing with the hyperbolic claim that her “voice was a forceful cry for liberation.” Hees’ richly hued illustrations show Afro-Brazilian influences in stylized background settings made of patterned bands and very dark-skinned figures with strong, composed features. A historical note includes a map of the colonial locale but no reproduction of the actual letter.

Garcia is apparently lost to history aside from her petition, but its very existence marks her as “truly an unforgettable woman!” (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-55498-729-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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Despite the book’s clarity, many young listeners still may not understand the enormity of the enterprise or its importance...

HENRY AND THE CANNONS

AN EXTRAORDINARY TRUE STORY OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

Brown brings to life a complex undertaking that had important repercussions, though his early-elementary audience may not be quite ready for it.

The book’s trajectory is clearly laid out: A simple map traces an almost-300-mile path through the wilderness from Fort Ticonderoga in New York to Boston. The first line draws readers firmly into the past—“It was the winter of 1775”—and defines the problem: British soldiers occupy Boston, and the Americans have no way to dislodge them. Despite the seeming impossibility of transporting heavy cannons over snowy roads, across icy lakes and through forbidding forests, young Henry Knox, a bookseller and militia member, volunteered to get the job done. As he has in other informational picture books, Brown uses a variety of page layouts, including some sequential panels, to convey the action. Cool blues and icy whites evoke the wintry landscape; figures and faces are loosely drawn but ably express emotion and determination. Likewise, the brief text employs lyrical language to both get the basic facts across and communicate the feelings and experiences of Henry and his band of hardy helpers. Children intrigued by Brown’s succinct summary will want to follow up with Anita Silvey’s Henry Knox: Bookseller, Solider, Patriot, illustrated by Wendell Minor (2010).

Despite the book’s clarity, many young listeners still may not understand the enormity of the enterprise or its importance in U.S. history (bibliography) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59643-266-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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A succinct, edifying read, but don’t buy it for the pictures.

LONG, TALL LINCOLN

Abraham Lincoln’s ascent to the presidency is recounted in a fluid, easy-to-read biography for early readers.

Simple, direct sentences stress Lincoln’s humble upbringing, his honesty, and his devotion to acting with moral conviction. “Lincoln didn’t seem like a man who would be president one day. But he studied hard and became a lawyer. He cared about people and about justice.” Slavery and Lincoln’s signature achievement of emancipation are explained in broad yet defined, understandable analogies. “At that time, in the South, the law let white people own black people, just as they owned a house or a horse.” Readers are clearly given the president’s perspective through some documented memorable quotes from his own letters. “Lincoln did not like slavery. ‘If slavery is not wrong,’ he wrote to a friend ‘nothing is wrong.’ ” (The text does not clarify that this letter was written in 1865 and not before he ascended to the presidency, as implied by the book.) As the war goes on and Lincoln makes his decision to free the slaves in the “Southern states”—“a bold move”—Lincoln’s own words describe his thinking: “ ‘If my name ever goes into history,’ Lincoln said, ‘it will be for this act.’ ” A very basic timeline, which mentions the assassination unaddressed in the text, is followed by backmatter providing photographs, slightly more detailed historical information, and legacy. It’s a pity that the text is accompanied by unremarkable, rudimentary opaque paintings.

A succinct, edifying read, but don’t buy it for the pictures. (Informational early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-243256-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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