Other drummer-boy accounts exist; this one is a cannon-shot shy of making its mark.

CIVIL WAR DRUMMER BOY

The author’s note at the beginning sets the time and circumstance: April 21, 1861, when the first shots of the War Between the States were fired.

This fictionalized account of a young drummer boy is told in brief four-line stanzas. “With his hopes high, / Lincoln leads. / Can’t prevent it— / South secedes. / …  / Army calling, / ‘We need YOU!’ / Johnny joining, / Drumsticks, new.” The watercolor-and-gouache illustrations provide visual context and depict historical details cited in the author’s note. For instance, a soldier floating above the landscape in a gas-filled observation balloon would signal the drummer boy to relay his orders to the troops with his drum. While the text’s catchy rhythm and rhyme would seemingly lend itself to a young audience, it does not pull punches with the subject. “Soldiers shooting. / Rifles aimed. / Bullets buzzing, / Bodies maimed. / ... / Cannons blasting, / Smoke-filled sky. / Fierce-fought battle, / Soldiers die.” The clipped verse relies on readers’ having some familiarity with the Civil War. Plus, the boy’s voice becomes clouded by the poetry, further hampering the book's ability to connect with readers. While the verse form seems to aim the book at preschoolers and early-elementary children, its subject and need for prior knowledge demand older readers, who will likely reject the format.

Other drummer-boy accounts exist; this one is a cannon-shot shy of making its mark. (Picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-23992-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that...

BEN FRANKLIN'S IN MY BATHROOM!

Antics both instructive and embarrassing ensue after a mysterious package left on their doorstep brings a Founding Father into the lives of two modern children.

Summoned somehow by what looks for all the world like an old-time crystal radio set, Ben Franklin turns out to be an amiable sort. He is immediately taken in hand by 7-year-old Olive for a tour of modern wonders—early versions of which many, from electrical appliances in the kitchen to the Illinois town’s public library and fire department, he justly lays claim to inventing. Meanwhile big brother Nolan, 10, tags along, frantic to return him to his own era before either their divorced mom or snoopy classmate Tommy Tuttle sees him. Fleming, author of Ben Franklin’s Almanac (2003) (and also, not uncoincidentally considering the final scene of this outing, Our Eleanor, 2005), mixes history with humor as the great man dispenses aphorisms and reminiscences through diverse misadventures, all of which end well, before vanishing at last. Following a closing, sequel-cueing kicker (see above) she then separates facts from fancies in closing notes, with print and online leads to more of the former. To go with spot illustrations of the evidently all-white cast throughout the narrative, Fearing incorporates change-of-pace sets of sequential panels for Franklin’s biographical and scientific anecdotes. Final illustrations not seen.

It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that adds flavor without weight. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93406-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not a stand-alone, unlike the opener, but still a worthy tale built around a core of clashing cultures and shared human...

THE RAIDERS

From the Inuk Quartet series , Vol. 2

The second episode in the Danish author's Inuk Quartet sends young Icelander Leiv and his Inuit friends on a new mission of vengeance after Viking raiders plunder his newfound Greenland home.

They have spent an idyllic spring and summer recovering from the trek in Shipwreck (2011); it's been interrupted only by a quick clash with a longship captained by the brutal Thorleifsson brothers. Now, Apuluk and Narua set out to rejoin their nomadic clan with Leiv in tow. That friendly visit turns into a punitive expedition after the Thorleifssons massacre most of a native settlement and loot Leiv's new home. The translated narrative reads smoothly, and high production values result in a handsome, open page design. Its visual appeal is enhanced by Cann's stylized but crisply drawn and richly colored images of arctic wildlife and fur-clad human residents. Though wordy descriptions of seasonal cycles and farm life slow down the first several chapters, the pacing picks up on the way to a violent climax, gory ends for the bad guys, and (pointing to developments in volumes to come) Leiv's decision to explore northward in search of a land route to fabled Vinland.

Not a stand-alone, unlike the opener, but still a worthy tale built around a core of clashing cultures and shared human values.   (Historical fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-84686-744-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more