A fascinating look at the determination and vision that led one man to create an essential resource.

READ REVIEW

W IS FOR WEBSTER

NOAH WEBSTER AND HIS AMERICAN DICTIONARY

Noah Webster’s path to creating his iconic dictionary is brought to life in this picture book.

Noah Webster, Fern tells readers, was “an odd fellow” in both looks and interests. He was a tall, skinny child with “brilliant red hair” who used big words and wished his one-room school in Connecticut were in session longer and gave out homework. In 1774, his father, aware that Noah would make a terrible farmer, sent him to Yale College instead. During Noah’s time at Yale, the Revolutionary War began, and when it was over, Webster decided that what the fledgling nation of America needed was its own national language. He wrote a small “blue-backed speller” that simplified the spelling of some English words and included some strictly American words. Its success propelled Webster to begin work on a full-fledged American dictionary—a task he wouldn’t complete for nearly 20 years. Fern, whose narrative also imparts the idea that holding true to one’s passion can result in significant achievements, realistically portrays Webster’s discouragement as well as his determination—and his prickly personality. Kulikov’s illustrations, with their 18th-century feel and creative medley of scenes that encourage readers to look closely to “read” their meanings, cleverly interpret the text.

A fascinating look at the determination and vision that led one man to create an essential resource.   (author's note, sources) (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-38240-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stirring encouragement for all “little people” with “big dreams.” (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

MAYA ANGELOU

From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

“There’s nothing I can’t be,” young Maya thinks, and then shows, in this profile for newly independent readers, imported from Spain.

The inspirational message is conveyed through a fine skein of biographical details. It begins with her birth in St. Louis and the prejudice she experienced growing up in a small Arkansas town and closes with her reading of a poem “about her favorite thing: hope” at Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration. In between, it mentions the (unspecified) “attack” by her mother’s boyfriend and subsequent elective muteness she experienced as a child, as well as some of the varied pursuits that preceded her eventual decision to become a writer. Kaiser goes on in a closing spread to recap Angelou’s life and career, with dates, beneath a quartet of portrait photos. Salaberria’s simple illustrations, filled with brown-skinned figures, are more idealized than photorealistic, but, though only in the cover image do they make direct contact with readers’, Angelou’s huge eyes are an effective focal point in each scene. The message is similar in the co-published Amelia Earhart, written by Ma Isabel Sánchez Vegara (and also translated by Pitt), but the pictures are more fanciful as illustrator Mariadiamantes endows the aviator with a mane of incandescent orange hair and sends her flying westward (in contradiction of the text and history) on her final around-the-world flight.

Stirring encouragement for all “little people” with “big dreams.” (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84780-889-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Weatherford and Christie dazzlingly salute African-Americans’ drive to preserve their dignity and pride.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • Caldecott Honor Book

FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE

Count down the days until Sunday, a day for slaves in New Orleans to gather together and remember their African heritage.

In rhyming couplets, Weatherford vividly describes each day of nonstop work under a “dreaded lash” until Sunday, when slaves and free blacks could assemble in Congo Square, now a part of New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong Park and on the National Register of Historic Places. Musicians “drummed ancestral roots alive” on different traditional instruments, and men and women danced. They also exchanged information and sold wares. The poetry is powerful and evocative, providing a strong and emotional window into the world of the slave. Christie’s full-bleed paintings are a moving accompaniment. His elongated figures toil in fields and in houses with bent backs under the watchful eyes of overseers with whips. Then on Sunday, they greet one another and dance with expressively charged spirits. One brilliant double-page spread portrays African masks and instruments with swirling lines of text; it is followed by another with four dancers moving beautifully—almost ethereally—on a vibrant yellow collage background. As the author notes, jazz would soon follow from the music played in Congo Square.

Weatherford and Christie dazzlingly salute African-Americans’ drive to preserve their dignity and pride. (foreword, glossary, author’s note) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0103-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more