There’s not much for kids about presidential mothers, and at least this book covers every White House resident so far.


Behind every great man….And behind many of our presidents, there’s also an unknown woman. This book sheds light on our leaders’ mothers and how their influences possibly shaped the founding dads.

If they care, browsers will eke out at least one factoid they never knew about each presidential mom, even famous ones. Some tidbits are intriguing—Nancy Lincoln’s prowess as a wrestler, Malvina Arthur’s efforts to prove Chester was American-born, and Elizabeth Harrison’s warnings to Benjamin to avoid cucumbers. Many share commonalities. While some came from privilege, many raised their (usually) large families more humbly, even in poverty. Many mothers were religious and passed on strict moral values to their progeny, including an abhorrence of social injustice. Some profiles are more detailed than others, perhaps due to spottier information in older historical records. The mothers of the more recent presidents are given slightly fuller portrayals. Occasional captions and cartoon-y speech balloons add supplemental information. Some facts are simplistic, even incorrect, as in the case of Warren Harding, “one of our worst presidents,” whose corrupt administration is passed off “because he did not stand up for his ideas.” Sadly, there are several instances of disputed or inaccurate dates in various profiles. The watercolor-and–colored-pencil illustrations are bland, with many women looking identical, the passage of time marked only by changes in fashions, hairstyles and “props.”

There’s not much for kids about presidential mothers, and at least this book covers every White House resident so far. (bibliography, author’s note) (Nonfiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-22301-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.


An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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Good-hearted fun—great for fans of Kit Feeny and Babymouse.


From the Yeti Files series , Vol. 1

It’s a Bigfeet family reunion!

Everyone’s favorite frosty, furry cryptid, the yeti, actually has a name: Blizz Richards. From his supersecret HQ in Nepal he keeps in touch with his fellow cryptids, all of whom have sworn an oath to keep themselves hidden. That’s not always easy, especially when there are cryptozoologists, like the nasty (but bumbling) George Vanquist, who are always trying to expose the secretive creatures. Vanquist got a picture of Blizz’s cousin Brian near his home in British Columbia, causing the mortified Brian to disappear entirely. When Blizz receives an invitation to a Bigfeet family reunion in Canada, he calls his buddies Alexander (one of Santa’s elves), Gunthar (a goblin) and Frank the Arctic fox to help him get ready. When they arrive in Canada, Brian is still nowhere to be seen. Can Blizz and his skunk ape and other sasquatch cousins find Brian, have the reunion and evade Vanquist? If anyone can, the Bigfeet clan can. Illustrator Sherry’s first volume in the Yeti Files is a fast and funny graphic-prose tale full of labeled pictures and comic-style panels. Those just starting chapter books may have some trouble with a few big words, but they’ll enjoy the big friendly monsters and immediately ask for the next tale—which looks to be about the Loch Ness monster.

Good-hearted fun—great for fans of Kit Feeny and Babymouse. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-55617-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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