A terrifically told story with striking design and illustrations that will empower its readers.

SHADOW WARRIOR

BASED ON THE TRUE STORY OF A FEARLESS NINJA AND HER NETWORK OF FEMALE SPIES

A lengthy picture book about a female ninja in 16th-century Japan.

Mochizuki Chiyome lives in the Koga region of feudal Japan, where constant warfare between warlords called daimyos creates the need for both samurais and ninjas. Chiyome’s great-grandfather was a famous ninja, and she is training to be one too. Her arduous preparation includes dangling from a cliff as well as more subtle skills, such as hensojutsu, the art of disguise. After years of training, she becomes a ninja only to be married off to Mochizuki Moritoki, the nephew of a powerful daimyo. When her husband is killed in battle, Chiyome—whose choices as a widow are either taking care of other women’s children or retreating to a spiritual life—convinces her uncle-in-law to take advantage of her ninja skills. She recruits and trains a network of female ninjas to spy for him. Kyi’s bracing text (based on some real historical figures, as revealed in an epilogue) gives a vivid sense of detail and danger, although it’s too bad the illustrated map of 16th-century feudal Japan does not clearly mark the locations referenced in the story. The book’s design is otherwise stellar. Japanese landscape paintings bordered with stylized patterns combine smoothly with Krampien’s bold, emotive illustrations, heightening the overall ambience and tone of the story.

A terrifically told story with striking design and illustrations that will empower its readers. (glossary, further reading, sources) (Picture book. 8-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55451-966-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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A critical contribution to discussions of equal access and of systemic racism.

WITHOUT SEPARATION

PREJUDICE, SEGREGATION, AND THE CASE OF ROBERTO ALVAREZ

Separate but equal—even primary grade students understand this prejudicial oxymoron.

Separation is never equal. When the Lemon Grove School District’s board of trustees decided to expel every one of the 75 students who were of Mexican American descent in order to establish an all-White student body, the Lemon Grove Neighbor’s Committee—Comité de Vecinos de Lemon Grove—decided to take action. The Mexican consul in San Diego provided lawyers who filed on behalf of 12-year-old Roberto Alvarez in San Diego’s California Superior Court. Exploding the board of trustees’ assertion that the minority students were “backward and deficient,” Roberto himself, in fluent English, defended his position. This was the “first successfully fought school desegregation case in the United States.” On April 16, 1931, the decision was made public: “to immediately admit and receive…Roberto Alvarez, and all other pupils of Mexican parentage…without separation or segregation.” Brimner’s straightforward narrative follows Roberto Alvarez from his return to school after Christmas vacation only to be told he was no longer welcome to the day he was able to receive the same education as the White students. The substantial author’s note places this case in context with other desegregation cases in the U.S.—particularly in California. Gonzalez’s colorful and detailed mural-esque illustrations make the historical flavor of the times accessible.

A critical contribution to discussions of equal access and of systemic racism. (photos, sources, source notes) (Informational picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68437-195-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Overall, the stories are engaging and inspiring, from the tribulations that came upon Emancipation to the strange new world...

ON AN AMERICAN DAY

VOL. 1: STORY VOYAGES THROUGH HISTORY 1750-1899

From the On a Day Story Voyages series , Vol. 3

Brief fictional sketches walk readers through 150 years of American history.

Arato takes nine powerful slices of American history—such as Valley Forge, the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Gold Rush, the founding of the Perkins School for the Blind and Berea College, Hull House, the Johnstown Flood—and wraps them in neat, emotive, unvarnished stories that feature a day in the life of a child caught up in the action. Shannon introduces each segment with an atmospheric illustration, Disney-like scene-setters that function as launching pads for the affecting tales. One may be as plain as the miseries of war—“The Union army regrouped at Bull Run under a pall of defeat so thick, it seemed to suck the air from the sky”—while another may take a more psychological air, as one boy hides a gold nugget so his father can’t gamble it away. Only rarely does the author let the sheer fervor of the story lead her onto shaky ground: Did the Oneida Nation really consider the Revolutionary War as “our cause,” or as a strategic alliance? (She clarifies in a fact-based endnote—one accompanies each chapter—that the Oneidas were ultimately given the raw end of the stick, their treaty lands diminished from 6 million acres to 32 acres.)

Overall, the stories are engaging and inspiring, from the tribulations that came upon Emancipation to the strange new world opened to Chinese workers recruited for the Transcontinental Railroad to the pure brilliance of a school for the blind. (Historical fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-926818-91-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

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