An attractive volume demonstrating that even words themselves have a story.

NOAH WEBSTER'S FIGHTING WORDS

The story of Noah Webster, America’s original man of letters.

Noah Webster was concerned with letters, literally. With America formally separated from England, he wanted to break away from Great Britain in every way. As a classroom teacher, he saw that students didn’t learn American geography or American history or read American stories. And students used British grammar books. So, the same year the American Revolution ended, he published A Grammatical Institute of the English Language, and his spelling book became America’s first bestseller. Webster also believed in simplifying spelling, so that words would be spelled the way they sounded: center instead of centre, jail instead of gaol, iz for is, and hed for head. Though not every suggestion caught on, he changed the spellings of more English words than anyone ever had. Maurer, ever mindful of her own words and spelling every one carefully, has crafted a text that reflects Webster’s feisty personality and provides enough history to establish sufficient context for Webster’s work. Catusanu’s mixed-media illustrations combine child-friendly depictions of Webster, Benjamin Franklin, and others with period drawings and excerpts from period newspapers, books, and Webster’s own handwritten letters. Digitally collaged speech bubbles and the occasional obviously anachronistic image give the design a lively feel. Young readers encountering new words here will know where to find help—Webster’s dictionary!

An attractive volume demonstrating that even words themselves have a story. (author’s note, illustrator’s note, timeline, sources, bibliography, primary sources, more information) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4677-9410-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Bloodthirsty readers may be a little disappointed by these quick stabs at high-interest, if extinct, occupations.

HOW TO LIVE LIKE A VIKING WARRIOR

From the How to Live Like... series

A 10th-century Norwegian jarl’s son lays out the training, gear, and attitude requisite for a proper Viking life (and death).

Young Olaf Sharpaxe is visibly puny next to the exaggeratedly brawny brutes making up the rest of his father’s “hird” (warrior band) in Epelbaum’s cartoon illustrations but sports a comically crazed expression to make up for it. He describes the hard training, the camaraderie, how to choose the best weapons and armor, and life in the jarl’s hall. Following a quick description of a longship, he also supplies step-by-step directions for launching a raid, taking spoils, and, following his father’s death from wounds, how to bury a Viking chief. All of this, plus thumbnail accounts of renowned Viking warriors, Valhalla, and Ragnarok are capped by “Ten Vicious Viking Facts” to take away. For all the ferocity and mighty sword strokes in the pictures, though, there is nary a drop of spilled blood to be seen, and even in the narrative, violence is downplayed: brutal warrior Erik Bloodaxe “was lucky enough to have good skalds (poets) to put a better spin on his dubious deeds.” The co-published How to Live Like a Roman Gladiator is likewise all thrilling posturing with implicit, never explicit, gore.

Bloodthirsty readers may be a little disappointed by these quick stabs at high-interest, if extinct, occupations. (index) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-7213-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hungry Tomato/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A sensitive, discussable access point for children learning about Holocaust history.

JARS OF HOPE

HOW ONE WOMAN HELPED SAVE 2,500 CHILDREN DURING THE HOLOCAUST

The brave work of Irena Sendler, one of the righteous gentiles of World War II, is succinctly depicted in this new picture book.

“There are two kinds of people in this world, good and bad.” As a child, wise words from her father gave Irena a guiding principle to live by and prompted the adult Sendler to find ways to save 2,500 innocent Jewish children and babies from the horror of their Holocaust fate. She worked with a network of smugglers and shelters to hide them in carpentry boxes, vegetable sacks, and laundry piles, transporting them to orphanages and the homes of willing Christian foster families, recording the children’s names so they could be found later and burying her lists in the titular jars. And when she herself was imprisoned by the Nazis, Zegota, the Polish resistance group, bribed guards to free her so she could continue her important work. Digital and traditional art in opaque dark browns and grays illustrates the sinister period and shadowy existence of these saved children. Roy’s chronological narrative concentrates on the period from 1940 to 1944 and stresses Sendler’s heroism; it also includes invented scenes and dialogue, marking it as fiction.

A sensitive, discussable access point for children learning about Holocaust history. (afterword, author’s note, glossary, index, source notes) (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62370-425-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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