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The intriguingly complicated story of Tituba and the Salem witch trials is presented for a young audience with some liberties taken with the facts that are actually known about her. Miller’s history as a poet comes through in his telling, especially during Tituba’s description of her homeland to the two girls in her care. She fondly recalls the beautiful birds that would greet her each morning on the way to the river, her gratitude to the water spirits when filling her jar and her ability to tell fortunes by tossing shells. After these revelations the girls have strange dreams and Tituba is accused of being a witch. Brought before a judge and persecuted because she is different, Tituba is told to “confess or die.” To avoid execution and to save herself, she tells the court what they want to hear. Sitting alone in jail, when all others have been sent home, she is distraught to the point of wanting to end it all. But her spirit is uplifted when moonlight washes over her, for she realizes that the moon shines on everyone equally. She’s released and sold to another family far away. When young slaves from her native island arrive, Tituba becomes their mentor, advising that “a master might own your body, but he can never own your spirit.” Unfortunately, most of this story is imagined. Very little is known about what happened to Tituba, as the author himself points out. And it is uncertain whether he even knows what she could have been thinking. While the intent is certainly a noble one, readers deserve to know when a story is fiction and when it is not. Jenkins’s art is interesting and often very powerful, although Tituba sometimes seems to be placed on top of the scene. It is unfortunate that it accompanies a flawed text. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-201897-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2000

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In first-person voice, Aldrin highlights points from his childhood that led to his dream of being an astronaut and making the historic moon landing. Coincidental details like his mother’s maiden name, “Moon,” and his favorite movie hero, the “Lone Ranger,” suggest clues to his destiny. After West Point, he joined the Air Force because “he wanted to fly more than anything.” Minor’s usual beautiful and realistic illustrations effectively convey spatial perspectives and movement, adding depth to the narrative. However, the cover design and type layout are confusing, indicative of a biography instead of an autobiography—a brief intro could have clarified it. Aldrin’s message in an author’s note avows, “If you set your sights high, you may accomplish more than you ever dreamed.” Pair this with Don Brown’s One Giant Step for a child’s-eye view on space exploration. (Flight/space exploration chronology) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-055445-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2005

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Spinning lively invented details around skimpy historical records, Taylor profiles the 19th-century chef credited with inventing the potato chip. Crum, thought to be of mixed Native-American and African-American ancestry, was a lover of the outdoors, who turned cooking skills learned from a French hunter into a kitchen job at an upscale resort in New York state. As the story goes, he fried up the first batch of chips in a fit of pique after a diner complained that his French fries were cut too thickly. Morrison’s schoolroom, kitchen and restaurant scenes seem a little more integrated than would have been likely in the 1850s, but his sinuous figures slide through them with exaggerated elegance, adding a theatrical energy as delicious as the snack food they celebrate. The author leaves Crum presiding over a restaurant (also integrated) of his own, closes with a note separating fact from fiction and also lists her sources. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58430-255-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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