BEAR ON THE HOMEFRONT

Child readers, in wartime or not, will give their teddies an extra, grateful squeeze.

A brother and sister evacuated from England during World War II gather strength from a tiny teddy bear.

Grace and William are sent from their home to live with a host family in Canada until the war is over. On arrival, the pair meets Aileen, a nurse who travels with all of the children to make sure they get to their Canadian families safely. Grace and William are scared and homesick, but a small, peanut-shaped bear from Aileen’s pocket helps to comfort them. Teddy narrates the story, which is a bit jarring at first, but Teddy’s gentle tone ends up bringing readers just as much comfort as it does Grace and William. Teddy is the hero from the creative team’s previous real-life war story, A Bear in War (2009), in which a young Aileen Rogers sends the bear to her father stationed in Belgium during World War I. The story is inspired by Rogers’ diary, kept 25 years later while working as a nurse. Teddy might not have had this exact adventure, but the tale truly shows the reassuring presence of just the right toy. Deines’ warm oil paintings, suffused with light, are as tender as Teddy’s tiny embrace.

Child readers, in wartime or not, will give their teddies an extra, grateful squeeze. (afterword) (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927485-13-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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THE SECRET SUBWAY

Absolutely wonderful in every way.

A long-forgotten chapter in New York City history is brilliantly illuminated.

In mid-19th-century New York, horses and horse-drawn vehicles were the only means of transportation, and the din created by wheels as they rumbled on the cobblestones was deafening. The congestion at intersections threatened the lives of drivers and pedestrians alike. Many solutions were bandied about, but nothing was ever done. Enter Alfred Ely Beach, an admirer of “newfangled notions.” Working in secret, he created an underground train powered by an enormous fan in a pneumatic tube. He built a tunnel lined with brick and concrete and a sumptuously decorated waiting room for passenger comfort. It brought a curious public rushing to use it and became a great though short-lived success, ending when the corrupt politician Boss Tweed used his influence to kill the whole project. Here is science, history, suspense, secrecy, and skulduggery in action. Corey’s narrative is brisk, chatty, and highly descriptive, vividly presenting all the salient facts and making the events accessible and fascinating to modern readers. The incredibly inventive multimedia illustrations match the text perfectly and add detail, dimension, and pizazz. Located on the inside of the book jacket is a step-by-step guide to the creative process behind these remarkable illustrations.

Absolutely wonderful in every way. (author’s note, bibliography, Web resources) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-375-87071-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

WHEN I WAS EIGHT

Utterly compelling.

The authors of Fatty Legs (2010) distill that moving memoir of an Inuit child’s residential school experience into an even more powerful picture book.

“Brave, clever, and as unyielding” as the sharpening stone for which she’s named, Olemaun convinces her father to send her from their far-north village to the “outsiders’ school.” There, the 8-year-old receives particularly vicious treatment from one of the nuns, who cuts her hair, assigns her endless chores, locks her in a dark basement and gives her ugly red socks that make her the object of other children’s taunts. In her first-person narration, she compares the nun to the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, a story she has heard from her sister and longs to read for herself, subtly reminding readers of the power of literature to help face real life. Grimard portrays this black-cloaked nun with a scowl and a hooked nose, the image of a witch. Her paintings stretch across the gutter and sometimes fill the spreads. Varying perspectives and angles, she brings readers into this unfamiliar world. Opening with a spread showing the child’s home in a vast, frozen landscape, she proceeds to hone in on the painful school details. A final spread shows the triumphant child and her book: “[N]ow I could read.”

Utterly compelling. (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55451-490-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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