They could do it! (author’s note, timeline, sources) (Picture book. 4-7)

ROSIE

STRONGER THAN STEEL

Cross-cultural feminist history goes down easy in this kid-friendly story.

Factual details about female factory workers in the United States and the Women’s Land Army in England merge in this fictional tale of a sunny little tractor. When readers first meet Rosie, she’s being constructed by racially diverse Rosie the Riveter–esque women in response to FDR’s Lend-Lease Act. Built with care, the tractor receives a final rose painted on her nose and then she’s shipped off to England. There, women tend the fields while the men fight in World War II. Rosie is determined to do her part, repeating, “I plow and I dig. / I dig and I plow. / No matter the job, / this is my vow.” The war ends but not her purpose—there’s a happy ending in store for the little tractor that could. Ample backmatter tells the true story behind tractors like Rosie. Children too small to appreciate Ward’s deft melding of history and storytelling will still find much to enjoy thanks to the copious mechanics, repeated rhymes, and a tractor to rival Mike Mulligan’s Mary Anne in terms of sheer on-the-job enthusiasm. Ward’s art simultaneously anthropomorphizes Rosie and gives a sense of authenticity to her human figures. More than the sum of its parts, this is a wildly successful and well-researched shaping of the picture-book form to true historical sheroes.

They could do it! (author’s note, timeline, sources) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1794-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Puns, humor, and onomatopoeia emphasize the value of trying.

THE KNIGHT WHO MIGHT

Move over Little Engine That Could and get ready to share the bookshelf with The Knight Who Might.

This knight’s mantra is: “One day, I might be a knight.” But in repeated refrains, his magic horse, sword, and helmet each proclaim, “You might not” after the knight falls off his horse with an “Oof,” gets his sword stuck in a tree, and falls into a mud puddle when he tries to put his helmet on. The horse, sword, and helmet even hide when the knight enters “ye olde tournament,” reasoning, “He can’t be a knight without us.” But when the ever positive knight journeys to the tournament alone, the three show concern. “ ‘He’ll be exhausted,’ said the horse. ‘He’ll be cut to pieces,’ said the sword. ‘He’ll lose his head,’ said the helmet.” And when the knight is scheduled to battle The Lord With the Scary Looking Sword, the three doubters come to the aid of the knight when he declares, “For the first time in my life, I’m The Knight Who Might Not.” Tension builds as the knight, now with his horse, helmet, and sword, gallops closer and closer to the scary-looking sword-wielding lord until…“DONK!” Beckett emphasizes the slapstick in his cartoons. The protagonist’s magic objects all have googly eyes and eyebrows, which is a little unsettling when the helmet is on the knight’s head but does add to the silliness.

Puns, humor, and onomatopoeia emphasize the value of trying. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-84886-644-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Maverick Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Good, quick-moving fun. Kids may marvel that communication existed before the telephone and Internet.

JACKRABBIT MCCABE AND THE ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH

This original tall tale is literally up to speed.

Jackrabbit McCabe is the fastest man in Windy Flats, a mid-19th-century town. With legs that are preternaturally long, Jackrabbit races everything, human, animal, and mechanical—and wins every time. His neighbors rely on him to deliver messages with lightning speed. Then fate, in the guise of a new invention called the telegraph, rushes in. Everyone in Windy Flats scoffs at the idea that “any newfangled contraption” is faster than their man, and he eagerly takes up the challenge to “race” against it. For kids it won’t be a foregone conclusion that the electrical device proves faster than any pair of human legs, yet for the first time, Jackrabbit must admit defeat. Happily, a logical ending is in store: our speedy hero models good sportsmanship by accepting loss gracefully, and he eagerly becomes the town’s telegraph operator and newspaper deliverer. Naturally, he fulfills his duties remarkably quickly. Readers will find that the story, written in folksy terms and rhythms, clips along at a fast pace, too, and the fittingly retro illustrations are filled with action, energy, and good humor. Occasional changes in typeface and size add to the excitement of the telling. The backmatter includes a helpful historical author’s note, a Morse code key, and a riddle in Morse code for readers to solve.

Good, quick-moving fun. Kids may marvel that communication existed before the telephone and Internet. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37843-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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