This appealing concoction is a powerful reminder of the good one person can do.

GINGERBREAD FOR LIBERTY!

HOW A GERMAN BAKER HELPED WIN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

Rockliff and Kirsch introduce a lesser-known figure who demonstrated patriotic fire by baking bread for the Continental Army.

It is fitting that throughout the tale our hero is simply called the baker—curious youngsters only learn his name, Christopher Ludwick, in the closing author’s note. Brisk, playful text sketches Ludwick’s life and cheerful, generous nature. Although too “old and fat” to fight, when he learns the troops are hungry, “[t]he baker roll[s] up his sleeves. ‘No empty bellies here,’ he [tells] General Washington. ‘Not in my America!’ ” This is his refrain, and it is clear that this German immigrant, a gingerbread baker by trade, believes in liberty and opportunity. In fact, he volunteers to share this information with the foreign soldiers who arrive on our shores. Children must infer they are Hessians, a detail later confirmed in the author’s note. Bright watercolor illustrations resemble decorated gingerbread and burst across the double-page spreads as if barely able to contain this spirited patriot and his enormous contribution. The author’s note provides more information about Ludwick’s life and philanthropic efforts.

This appealing concoction is a powerful reminder of the good one person can do. (sources, recipe) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-13001-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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Stirring encouragement for all “little people” with “big dreams.” (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

MAYA ANGELOU

From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

“There’s nothing I can’t be,” young Maya thinks, and then shows, in this profile for newly independent readers, imported from Spain.

The inspirational message is conveyed through a fine skein of biographical details. It begins with her birth in St. Louis and the prejudice she experienced growing up in a small Arkansas town and closes with her reading of a poem “about her favorite thing: hope” at Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration. In between, it mentions the (unspecified) “attack” by her mother’s boyfriend and subsequent elective muteness she experienced as a child, as well as some of the varied pursuits that preceded her eventual decision to become a writer. Kaiser goes on in a closing spread to recap Angelou’s life and career, with dates, beneath a quartet of portrait photos. Salaberria’s simple illustrations, filled with brown-skinned figures, are more idealized than photorealistic, but, though only in the cover image do they make direct contact with readers’, Angelou’s huge eyes are an effective focal point in each scene. The message is similar in the co-published Amelia Earhart, written by Ma Isabel Sánchez Vegara (and also translated by Pitt), but the pictures are more fanciful as illustrator Mariadiamantes endows the aviator with a mane of incandescent orange hair and sends her flying westward (in contradiction of the text and history) on her final around-the-world flight.

Stirring encouragement for all “little people” with “big dreams.” (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84780-889-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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