MICHELANGELO'S SURPRISE

In 1494, in Florence, Italy, it snowed. Piero de' Medici, the ruler of Florence, called for a day of festivities and also called for Michelangelo Buonarroti, then 19. A page in the ruler's palazzo, young Sandro overhears Piero's command. He is curious as to why Piero wants Michelangelo, so he sets out in search of his father, the chief steward, to ask. That takes readers to the heart of Parillo's book: an extended tour through the Medici palazzo. As Sandro scurries after his father, readers go with him from sleeping chamber to loggia, the great hall to the kitchen to the stable and finally to the courtyard. Along the way, they meet pages, grooms, chambermaids, valets, servers, sweepers, and, not least, the master carver of meat roasts and his assistants. When Sandro tracks down his father, he is in the courtyard with Michelangelo on his shoulders; the young artist is busy sculpting a snow giant (which, indeed, he did in real life when snow came to Florence 500 years ago). The tour of the Renaissance palazzo is good and provocative, while the paintings are architecturally savvy and washed in Mediterranean color. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-374-34961-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

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MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE

An inspiring story of young boy's compelling desire to read. As a boy of nine, Booker works in a salt mine from the dark of early morning to the gloom of night, hungry for a meal, but even hungrier to learn to read. Readers follow him on his quest in Malden, Virginia, where he finds inspiration in a man ``brown as me'' reading a newspaper on a street corner. An alphabet book helps, but Booker can't make the connection to words. Seeking out ``that brown face of hope'' once again, Booker gains a sense of the sounds represented by letters, and these become his deliverance. Bradby's fine first book is tautly written, with a poetic, spiritual quality in every line. The beautifully executed, luminous illustrations capture the atmosphere of an African-American community post-slavery: the drudgery of days consumed by back- breaking labor, the texture of private lives conducted by lantern- light. There is no other context or historical note about Booker T. Washington's life, leaving readers to piece together his identity. Regardless, this is an immensely satisfying, accomplished work, resonating first with longing and then with joy. (Picture book. 5- 8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-531-09464-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1995

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A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance.

MUMBET'S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

With the words of Massachusetts colonial rebels ringing in her ears, a slave determines to win her freedom.

In 1780, Mumbet heard the words of the new Massachusetts constitution, including its declaration of freedom and equality. With the help of a young lawyer, she went to court and the following year, won her freedom, becoming Elizabeth Freeman. Slavery was declared illegal and subsequently outlawed in the state. Woelfle writes with fervor as she describes Mumbet’s life in the household of John Ashley, a rich landowner and businessman who hosted protest meetings against British taxation. His wife was abrasive and abusive, striking out with a coal shovel at a young girl, possibly Mumbet’s daughter. Mumbet deflected the blow and regarded the wound as “her badge of bravery.” Ironically, the lawyer who took her case, Theodore Sedgwick, had attended John Ashley’s meetings. Delinois’ full-bleed paintings are heroic in scale, richly textured and vibrant. Typography becomes part of the page design as the font increases when the text mentions freedom. Another slave in the Ashley household was named in the court case, but Woelfle, keeping her young audience in mind, keeps it simple, wisely focusing on Mumbet.

A life devoted to freedom and dignity, worthy of praise and remembrance. (author’s note, selected bibliography, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6589-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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