UNDER THE QUILT OF NIGHT

Hopkinson and Ransome team up once again with a stunning tale about one family’s trip on the Underground Railroad. More accessible to younger readers and listeners, it is a perfect companion to their Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt (1993). Rhythmic prose, combined with Ransome’s realistic oil paintings, follows the family of five as they escape slavery. Short, staccato phrases punctuate the running scenes and calmer, languid prose accompanies the family as they rest during the day. The story moves breathlessly as the family flees, with the slave catchers close behind. The title page shows the urgent racing feet with just the shadows of human forms reflected by the moon, embracing the family in “the quilt of night.” The young daughter watches for a safe house and is rewarded with the signal: a quilt hanging on the fence of a farmhouse. But, instead of the traditional red square in the heart of the log cabin pattern, this quilt has a blue center, signaling a safe house. The daughter knocks on the door and answers with the password phrase, “The friend of a friend.” The family spends a night, then hides in a wagon, and is nearly captured. Ransome’s evocative paintings gradually lighten as the runaways run from the blue-black darkness of the midnight escape to the glorious red-orange morning sky of promised freedom in Canada. The blue doors and windows of the church on the final page echo the blue of the quilt at the safe house, and even the geese in flight celebrate freedom. Hopkinson captures the fear of the escaping slaves, but tempers their fear with the bravery and hope that spurred them on. An author’s note gives further information about the Underground Railroad. An excellent introduction to the topic for a younger audience. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-82227-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

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THE STONE OF FIRE

From the Cavemice series , Vol. 1

Warp back in time for a prehistoric spinoff adventure with Geronimo Stilton’s ancestor, Geronimo Stiltonoot, in Old Mouse City.

Readers will find Geronimo Stiltonoot a familiar character, outfitted differently from descendant Stilton yet still running a newspaper and having wild adventures. In this introduction to prehistoric mouse life, someone has stolen the most powerful and important artifact housed by the Old Mouse City Mouseum: the Stone of Fire. It’s up to Stiltonoot and his fellow sleuth and friend, Hercule Poirat, to uncover not only the theft, but a dangerous plot that jeopardizes all of Old Mouse City. As stand-ins for the rest of the Stilton cast, Stiltonoot has in common with Stilton a cousin named Trap, a sister named Thea and a nephew named Benjamin. The slapstick comedy and design, busy with type changes and color, will be familiar for Stilton readers. The world is fictionalized for comedic effect, featuring funny uses for dinosaurs and cheeky references to how far back in time they are, with only the occasional sidebar that presents facts. The story takes a bit long to get started, spending a lot of time reiterating the worldbuilding information laid out before the first chapter. But once it does start, it is an adventure Stilton readers will enjoy. Geronimo Stiltonoot has the right combination of familiarity and newness to satisfy Stilton fans. (Fiction. 6-10)

 

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-44774-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS

Fact and fiction dovetail neatly in this tale of a wonderfully resolute child who finds a memorable way to convince her father that the newly-finished Brooklyn Bridge is safe to cross. Having watched the great bridge going up for most of her young life, Hannah is eager to walk it, but despite repeated, fact-laced appeals to reason (and Hannah is a positive fount of information about its materials and design), her father won’t be moved: “No little girl of mine will cross that metal monster!” Hannah finally hatches a far-fetched plan to convince him once and for all; can she persuade the renowned P.T. Barnum to march his corps of elephants across? She can, and does (actually, he was already planning to do it). Pham places Hannah, radiating sturdy confidence, within sepia-toned, exactly rendered period scenes that capture both the grandeur of the bridge in its various stages of construction, and the range of expressions on the faces of onlookers during its opening ceremonies and after. Readers will applaud Hannah’s polite persistence. (afterword, resources) (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-87011-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2004

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