THE GREATEST SKATING RACE

A WORLD WAR II STORY FROM THE NETHERLANDS

One winter day in 1941, in a German-occupied Dutch town called Sluis, ten-year-old Piet Janssen’s ice-skating skills are put to a dangerous test. It’s WWII, and Piet’s schoolmate Johanna Winkelman’s father has been arrested for espionage. Since his friend and her brother are no longer safe at home, Piet must help them escape to their aunt’s house in Brugge, skating over icy canals and outsmarting German soldiers until the three cross the Belgian border. The story of this perilous, bitterly cold flight—a race against time—is told in Piet’s earnest first-person voice and formatted like poetry, with frequent, often inexplicable line breaks. Themes of bravery, strength, and tradition echo throughout—like the “Swisssshh, swissshhh” of the children’s skates. Daly’s lovely illustrations, complete with rosy-cheeked innocents and autumnal tones, effectively evoke a sense of time and place in this slow-moving (but nonetheless moving) tale of a child’s wartime heroism. (information about the Elfstedentocht, author’s note on the history of skating, map) (Picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-84502-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2004

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It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that...

BEN FRANKLIN'S IN MY BATHROOM!

Antics both instructive and embarrassing ensue after a mysterious package left on their doorstep brings a Founding Father into the lives of two modern children.

Summoned somehow by what looks for all the world like an old-time crystal radio set, Ben Franklin turns out to be an amiable sort. He is immediately taken in hand by 7-year-old Olive for a tour of modern wonders—early versions of which many, from electrical appliances in the kitchen to the Illinois town’s public library and fire department, he justly lays claim to inventing. Meanwhile big brother Nolan, 10, tags along, frantic to return him to his own era before either their divorced mom or snoopy classmate Tommy Tuttle sees him. Fleming, author of Ben Franklin’s Almanac (2003) (and also, not uncoincidentally considering the final scene of this outing, Our Eleanor, 2005), mixes history with humor as the great man dispenses aphorisms and reminiscences through diverse misadventures, all of which end well, before vanishing at last. Following a closing, sequel-cueing kicker (see above) she then separates facts from fancies in closing notes, with print and online leads to more of the former. To go with spot illustrations of the evidently all-white cast throughout the narrative, Fearing incorporates change-of-pace sets of sequential panels for Franklin’s biographical and scientific anecdotes. Final illustrations not seen.

It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that adds flavor without weight. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93406-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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DORY STORY

Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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