Still, this will suffice as an introduction for die-hard pirate fans and add an interesting, quirky footnote to American...

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JEAN LAFFITE

THE PIRATE WHO SAVED AMERICA

Who knew that some pirates in the old days were Jewish and fought on the side of the good guys? Mateys, meet Jean Laffite, a real pirate of the Caribbean.

Rubin’s slim book begins in what is now Haiti with Laffite’s early days as a descendant of Spanish Jews. She moves on to his “career” as a successful privateer and smuggler and then to his fighting alongside Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans. Wise to the ways of the bayous and marshes, knowledge crucial to American defenses, Laffite also supplied Jackson with troops and ammunition. Amazingly, the fierce battle was over quickly and the British trounced. Thereafter, all was forgiven, as Lafitte and his pirates were proclaimed heroes and lauded for bravery and patriotism. Details about the rest of his life remain spotty in the historical record. While several of Laffite’s nefarious exploits are recounted here, they’re told in a matter-of-fact tone that doesn’t make them sound as exciting and dangerous as they had to have been. The paintings rendered in muted colors are fairly stiff, though some add atmosphere and rousing flavor. Lafitte is depicted as heavily buckled in the illustrations; too bad he doesn’t come across as more swashbuckling.

Still, this will suffice as an introduction for die-hard pirate fans and add an interesting, quirky footnote to American history. (author’s note, bibliography, index) (Picture book/biography. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8109-9733-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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MY HAVANA

MEMORIES OF A CUBAN BOYHOOD

Mirroring the career he eventually entered, architect Fernandez builds up, like one of Havana’s ornate structures, memories of childhood in his pre- and post-Castro hometown. A gifted illustrator, he drew constantly, easily rendering even minute architectural details. Before emigrating to New York City, young “Dino” and his family moved first to Madrid to assist relatives. Discovering a dictatorship that wasn’t much different from the one they’d left in Cuba, the family returned home and then finally moved to the United States. Havana was never far from his mind, and art brought solace. So homesick was Dino in Manhattan that he actually “built” a cardboard replica of Havana that captured the colors and warmth he remembered. This fictionalized memoir is for the contemplative reader and anyone who has felt out of place or yearned for a beloved home; it could serve as a catalyst for creative expression. Wells has chosen anecdotes wisely, and Ferguson’s illustrations are atmospheric, capturing Dino’s childlike enthusiasm and longing. An author’s note reveals how Wells came to know of and be inspired by Fernandez’s story. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4305-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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These short pieces may start young people on the search for more information about these intriguing figures.

LADIES OF LIBERTY

THE WOMEN WHO SHAPED OUR NATION

Highlighting women writers, educators, and reformers from the 18th and early 19th centuries, Roberts brings a group of women, many not so well-known, into focus and provides a new perspective on the early history of the United States in this picture-book version of her adult book of the same title (2008).

The women include Lucy Terry Prince, a persuasive speaker who created the first poem (an oral piece not written down for over 100 years after its creation) by an African-American; Elizabeth Bayley Seton, the first American-born saint and the founder of Catholic institutions including schools, hospitals, and orphanages; and Rebecca Gratz, a young philanthropist who started many organizations to help the Jewish community in Philadelphia. The author usually uses some quotes from primary-source materials and enlivens her text with descriptive events, such as Meriweather Lewis’ citation of Sacagawea’s “equal fortitude” with the males of the exploration party during a storm, saving many supplies when their boat capsized. The sepia-hued pen-and-ink drawings are inspired by the letters of the era, and the soft watercolor portraits of the women and the paintings that reveal more of their stories are traditional in feeling. In her introduction, the author emphasizes the importance of historical materials, such as letters, organizational records, journals, and books written at the time. Despite this, there is no bibliography or other means of sourcing quoted material.

These short pieces may start young people on the search for more information about these intriguing figures. (Informational picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-078005-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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