Vivid, absorbing, and inspiring.

REVOLUTIONARY PRUDENCE WRIGHT

LEADING THE MINUTE WOMEN IN THE FIGHT FOR INDEPENDENCE

From the time she was a young girl, Prudence Wright “had a spark of independence.”

The story begins with a brief recounting of various ways young Prudence defied traditional gender roles while growing up in Pepperell, Massachusetts Colony, including outperforming boys at school, hunting, fishing, and debating her brothers on political issues. As she grows older, Prudence fumes at King George III’s increasingly punitive laws, which include onerous taxes on British goods. In 1773, when the men of Pepperell vote to join the Colony’s resistance to British rule and begin training in militias, Prudence and the women in her quilting circle stage their own rebellion by dumping British tea into a bonfire on the town common and boycotting other British goods. As King George clamps down on protests, the colonists declare war. While most of Pepperell’s men are away fighting in skirmishes, Prudence discovers that Tory spies are planning to infiltrate the town and organizes the townswomen to defend it. She leads the lasses—armed and dressed in men’s clothing—in a dramatic ambush on Pepperell’s bridge, making revolutionary history as head of “the first-ever unit of minute women.” Reagan’s accomplished illustrations, executed in watercolor with digital drawing, add historical veracity to Anderson’s superbly documented, at times hair-raising narrative. The author explicitly situates Wright and her female comrades as pioneers who “proved themselves as full citizens” in an era before female enfranchisement. Most characters are White, but a few of the colonists present as people of color.

Vivid, absorbing, and inspiring. (afterword, author’s note, illustrator’s note, bibliography) (Historical fiction/picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64472-057-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Astra Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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Upbeat and celebratory—like Pops himself.

JUST A LUCKY SO AND SO

THE STORY OF LOUIS ARMSTRONG

Cline-Ransome traces Armstrong’s storied arc, from an impoverished New Orleans childhood to his apex as a giant of jazz.

The episodic narrative, studded with place names, locates in “Little Louis’ ” tough early days the keys to his musical education. Louis helps his family by hauling coal, selling newspapers, and picking through garbage. New Orleans’ omnipresent music permeates his being: “Every day, outside his window, Little Louis listened up and down the streets, to the music of brass bands, funeral marches, honky-tonks on Saturday nights.” Captivated by brilliant cornetist Joe “King” Oliver, Louis buys a pawn-shop cornet, harmonizes in a street band—and runs afoul of the police once too often. Sent to the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys, Louis “missed his mama, his sister, and his cornet.” The facility has a performing band, however—and Louis wins over its teacher. In one of several interspersed (but undocumented) quotes, Armstrong quips: “Me and music got married at the home.” Released at 14, he apprentices with Oliver, plays in his bands, and follows him to Chicago and beyond. Ransome’s vivid, saturated paintings depict cityscapes and riverboats, framing Armstrong in windows and rectangular insets, and capturing the music’s joy in paradegoers’ faces. A nuanced author’s note features a detail about Louis’ uncorrected embouchure, and resources include eight well-annotated websites for multimedia study.

Upbeat and celebratory—like Pops himself. (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3428-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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A crisp historical vignette.

BEN'S REVOLUTION

BENJAMIN RUSSELL AND THE BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL

A boy experiences the Boston Tea Party, the response to the Intolerable Acts, and the battle at Breed’s Hill in Charlestown.

Philbrick has taken his Bunker Hill (2013), pulled from its 400 pages the pivotal moments, added a 12-year-old white boy—Benjamin Russell—as the pivot, and crafted a tale of what might have happened to him during those days of unrest in Boston from 1773 to 1775 (Russell was a real person). Philbrick explains, in plainspoken but gradually accelerating language, the tea tax, the Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, and the quartering of troops in Boston as well as the institution of a military government. Into this ferment, he introduces Benjamin Russell, where he went to school, his part-time apprenticeship at Isaiah Thomas’ newspaper, sledding down Beacon Hill, and the British officer who cleaned the cinders from the snow so the boys could sled farther and farther. It is these humanizing touches that make war its own intolerable act. Readers see Benjamin, courtesy of Minor’s misty gouache-and-watercolor tableaux, as he becomes stranded outside Boston Neck and becomes a clerk for the patriots. Significant characters are introduced, as is the geography of pre-landfilled Boston, to gain a good sense of why certain actions took place where they did. The final encounter at Breed’s Hill demonstrates how a battle can be won by retreating.

A crisp historical vignette. (maps, author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Historical fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16674-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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