An informative look at an inventor and his invention’s impact.

READ REVIEW

JOHN DEERE, THAT'S WHO!

In 1836, John Deere—then a young, white Vermont father and blacksmith—moved to Illinois to settle debts brought on by two forge fires—and wound up inventing a superior plow.

Deere was an excellent blacksmith whose plow improvement was purely pragmatic: many of his farming customers were ready to give up on Illinois, and he needed their payments to bring his family to him from Vermont. Farmers accustomed to sandy soil discovered that the Midwest’s rich, black soil stuck to their easily pitted, heavy iron plows—causing frequent pauses to scrape off what they called “gumbo.” Deere tinkered with a discarded steel blade from a sawmill, thinking that a shiny, curved, lightweight plow might “slice through gumbo.” Soon overcoming skeptics by demonstrations and giving samples to farmers, John Deere’s “singing plow” became wildly popular. By 1838 he had moved his family to his side and had established a manufacturing company still in existence. The only missing piece in Maurer’s tale is a sudden leap from “steel was rare that far west and too pricey” to the big success story; readers must make their own deductions. Otherwise, the text is smoothly conversational and has just enough details to interest without overwhelming. The illustrations are gorgeous: semiprimitive paintings with deliberate crackling for an aging effect. The winding patterns of rivers and plows are especially noteworthy.

An informative look at an inventor and his invention’s impact. (glossary, additional facts, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-129-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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
more