For unflattering portraits of these well-known Founding Fathers, there are plenty of other places to look.

THE GOOD FIGHT

THE FEUDS OF THE FOUNDING FATHERS (AND HOW THEY SHAPED THE NATION)

These four stories casting some of America’s Founding Fathers in less than a flattering light reveal that political partisanship and mudslinging have been a nasty reality since the nation’s founding.

The first story, about George Washington and George III, seems ill-suited to cast as a feud since neither personally knew the other, and the other conflicts are between family and friends. Benjamin Franklin refused to reconcile with his Loyalist son, William, even after the American Revolution. The consummate contrarian Alexander Hamilton feuded with many, most famously with Aaron Burr, who left Hamilton dead in a duel. Political differences drove John Adams and Thomas Jefferson apart for many years before they reconciled late in life. Quirk’s recounting of these episodes from American history breaks no new ground beyond bundling the stories together. Though the telling is smooth, aside from the chapter on the two Franklins, there is little new about the content. Rosalyn Schanzer’s George vs. George (2004), Don Brown’s Aaron and Alexander (2015), and Suzanne Tripp Jurmain’s Worst of Friends (illustrated by Larry Day, 2011) cover the other three “feuds” in lively picture books next to which this offering feels both superfluous and a little stodgy, despite Baddeley’s playful spot illustrations.

For unflattering portraits of these well-known Founding Fathers, there are plenty of other places to look. (source notes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-0035-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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IF YOU LIVED DURING THE PLIMOTH THANKSGIVING

A measured corrective to pervasive myths about what is often referred to as the “first Thanksgiving.”

Contextualizing them within a Native perspective, Newell (Passamaquoddy) touches on the all-too-familiar elements of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and its origins and the history of English colonization in the territory now known as New England. In addition to the voyage and landfall of the Mayflower, readers learn about the Doctrine of Discovery that arrogated the lands of non-Christian peoples to European settlers; earlier encounters between the Indigenous peoples of the region and Europeans; and the Great Dying of 1616-1619, which emptied the village of Patuxet by 1620. Short, two- to six-page chapters alternate between the story of the English settlers and exploring the complex political makeup of the region and the culture, agriculture, and technology of the Wampanoag—all before covering the evolution of the holiday. Refreshingly, the lens Newell offers is a Native one, describing how the Wampanoag and other Native peoples received the English rather than the other way around. Key words ranging from estuary to discover are printed in boldface in the narrative and defined in a closing glossary. Nelson (a member of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa) contributes soft line-and-color illustrations of the proceedings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Essential. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-72637-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

OIL

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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