THE CHAMPION OF CHILDREN

THE STORY OF JANUSZ KORCZAK

Polish-born Bogacki writes and illustrates a passionate picture-book biography of the Holocaust-era children’s advocate and doctor. Early Polish childhood life and interests quickly move into the doctor’s student days and expand to his renowned, democratically run orphanage. Korczak’s belief that children thrive when they are well cared for and learn to care for one another was the hallmark of his work. He steadfastly stayed with his children during the Nazi invasion and deportation and ultimately perished with them at Treblinka, but his legacy lives on. His defense of the rights of children is the forerunner of the established 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. And though this is a story that ends in dark despair, the author succeeds in creating a positive, upbeat atmosphere with his palette of muted reds, blues and greens, as opposed to that employed by Bill Farnsworth in David A. Adler’s A Hero and the Holocaust (2002), which was dominated by gloomy, dark-brown hues. (historical, author’s, source notes) (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-374-34136-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2009

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A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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THE LEMONADE WAR

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 1

Told from the point of view of two warring siblings, this could have been an engaging first chapter book. Unfortunately, the length makes it less likely to appeal to the intended audience. Jessie and Evan are usually good friends as well as sister and brother. But the news that bright Jessie will be skipping a grade to join Evan’s fourth-grade class creates tension. Evan believes himself to be less than clever; Jessie’s emotional maturity doesn’t quite measure up to her intelligence. Rivalry and misunderstandings grow as the two compete to earn the most money in the waning days of summer. The plot rolls along smoothly and readers will be able to both follow the action and feel superior to both main characters as their motivations and misconceptions are clearly displayed. Indeed, a bit more subtlety in characterization might have strengthened the book’s appeal. The final resolution is not entirely believable, but the emphasis on cooperation and understanding is clear. Earnest and potentially successful, but just misses the mark. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-75043-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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