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An uplifting tale of animal rights, perseverance, and kids’ power to make a difference.

Polio survivor Velma Bronn Johnston, known as Wild Horse Annie, fights to save mustang horses from slaughter.

Since she was “just a speck of a girl,” Annie has loved the mustangs on her family’s Nevada ranch. After Annie contracts polio at age 11, emerging with a bent spine and twisted face, she dreams of galloping with wild herds. But by the time Annie gets married and starts her own ranch, the herds have been killed by cattle ranchers and hunters. In folksy language matching Annie’s quoted quips, Fern recounts Annie’s campaigns to protect mustangs first locally, then federally. Refusing to “hush up” and unfazed by threats, Annie sends hundreds of letters and addresses government officials even though speaking in public makes her feel like “a cat on a hot frying pan.” Finally, help from her “secret weapon”—an enthusiastic letter-writing, fundraising “pencil brigade” of schoolchildren—leads to the 1971 passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Salerno’s sun-drenched illustrations capture the equally hardy spirits of the mustangs and Annie herself. Though the author acknowledges Annie’s disfigurement, chronic pain, and self-consciousness, Annie’s most prominent features are alternately her stubbornly scowling eyebrows and wide, warm grin. An author’s note provides further background on mustangs and Johnston’s pioneering efforts. Annie and her husband are white; the children’s complexions vary.

An uplifting tale of animal rights, perseverance, and kids’ power to make a difference. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-30306-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.

Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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