PIPPO THE FOOL

The tale of Filippo Brunelleschi’s unlikely bid to win the right to construct the dome for Florence’s cathedral. The slim story attempts to describe the challenge: to build a dome for the cathedral that would retain its beauty yet support its tremendous weight. Irreverently referred to as “Pippo the Fool” for his dabbling with “peculiar machines” and “outlandish structures,” Brunelleschi nevertheless presents an ingenious plan to float the dome over the cathedral with two domes, one inside the other. Colorful tile, marble and painted walls of Renaissance buildings provide a credible 15th-century Florentine setting. Estrada’s palette and form, although more angular, are reminiscent of de Paola. The language, however, is uneven, jumping from lyrical descriptions of the cathedral to an awkward description of Brunelleschi’s mood as a “bubble” in his chest. Regrettably for a book about architecture, neither text nor illustrations effectively convey to readers just exactly how the dome works, leaving them with a story of artistic determination, not genius. The backmatter provides some bricks and mortar for the story but may well be missed by young readers. (bibliography) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-57091-655-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2009

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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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MR. LINCOLN’S BOYS

BEING THE MOSTLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S TROUBLEMAKING SONS TAD AND WILLIE

Not much is heard about President Lincoln’s children, so Rabin fills a gap with this brief snapshot into the lives of two of them, Tad and Willie, which Ibatoulline illustrates with a softly drenched light that suggests yesteryear and a hint of melancholy, his images often evoking hand-tinted daguerreotypes. Working from historical documents, then embellishing to give the story a narrative, Rabin pleasingly draws two little rascals, full of practical jokes and absolute entitlement to their father’s attention, which the old stoic gives with imperturbable, beatific grace (while his aides bite their tongues). When the boys have second thoughts after condemning a toy soldier to death, they go to their father for a pardon; Abe consents with a wry “it makes me feel rested after a hard day’s work, to find some good excuse to save a man’s life.” An author’s note explains the genesis of the story and fleshes out the principals, including Tad and Willie, who, like their father, lived too-brief lives. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-670-06169-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2008

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