Next book



The mesmerizing visuals will enchant, but the text will keep many readers at arm’s length.

An account of the many lives of India’s Kohinoor diamond.

“A pair of brown hands” extract the fabled diamond from a river. The stone eventually becomes part of “the Peacock Throne,” finds its way onto an unnamed conqueror’s arm, and passes to a series of other unknown owners until it returns “back home— / the land where those brown hands / first unearthed you.” The diamond ends up in the custody of a 10-year-old boy—“scared and alone, / forcibly separated from his mother”—who is tricked into signing it away to a white man, presumably a British colonizer. Cut down much smaller than its original size, the diamond is embossed onto a British crown—a literal jewel in the crown. Why does the diamond shine throughout these trials and tribulations? The book’s narrator—who addresses the story to the diamond—ultimately concludes that it’s because the stone perceives its true worth. The collage illustrations are absolutely stunning, incorporating vibrant textures and colors that let this work sparkle like the titular diamond. The lyrical text is inspiring, and the use of second person is effective. The story’s lack of specificity, however, adds an ambiguity that detracts somewhat from its emotional resonance; readers will need to consult the thorough backmatter to learn, for instance, that in 1628, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan had the Kohinoor diamond set in a throne shaped like peacocks.

The mesmerizing visuals will enchant, but the text will keep many readers at arm’s length. (further reading, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 7-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781536228298

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

Next book



A measured corrective to pervasive myths about what is often referred to as the “first Thanksgiving.”

Contextualizing them within a Native perspective, Newell (Passamaquoddy) touches on the all-too-familiar elements of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and its origins and the history of English colonization in the territory now known as New England. In addition to the voyage and landfall of the Mayflower, readers learn about the Doctrine of Discovery that arrogated the lands of non-Christian peoples to European settlers; earlier encounters between the Indigenous peoples of the region and Europeans; and the Great Dying of 1616-1619, which emptied the village of Patuxet by 1620. Short, two- to six-page chapters alternate between the story of the English settlers and exploring the complex political makeup of the region and the culture, agriculture, and technology of the Wampanoag—all before covering the evolution of the holiday. Refreshingly, the lens Newell offers is a Native one, describing how the Wampanoag and other Native peoples received the English rather than the other way around. Key words ranging from estuary to discover are printed in boldface in the narrative and defined in a closing glossary. Nelson (a member of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa) contributes soft line-and-color illustrations of the proceedings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Essential. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-72637-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

Next book


Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Close Quickview