Though engagingly conveyed, this slight account grievously lacks context.

JEFFERSON MEASURES A MOOSE

A rivalry between Thomas Jefferson and a French naturalist is detailed in this lengthy picture book.

In Rockliff’s rollicking tale, Jefferson jots down numbers everywhere he goes. He reads a new book by a famous Frenchman named Buffon, claiming that “America [is] a terrible, miserable, cold, damp place where nothing good could grow” and animals are unnaturally small. Jefferson is mystified by these claims from a person who has never even been to America, and he sets out to prove him wrong. Amid the Revolutionary War, Jefferson finds time to compile enough numbers for a book, Notes on the State of Virginia. When he is asked to represent the new United States in France, Jefferson hopes to have his book presented to Buffon, but “the famous Frenchman had already made up his mind.” Jefferson compiles more numbers—measurements of animals small and large—and finally has a rotting moose carcass sent to Buffon. Anticlimactically, Buffon dies without acknowledging the huge animal. Schindler’s finely detailed illustrations are well suited to the subject and impress with period detail; they include one background character of color among the otherwise all-white cast. Children obsessed with the early republic and with science may find this obscure tale entertaining, but adults familiar with Jefferson’s writings and biography will hesitate to share this frivolous anecdote with children, as it ignores his legacy of racism and slavery even in the backmatter notes, which span six pages.

Though engagingly conveyed, this slight account grievously lacks context. (sources) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9410-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

THURGOOD

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A delightful story of love and hope.

OUR SUBWAY BABY

Families are formed everywhere—including large metropolitan mass-transit systems!

Baby Kevin, initially known as “Danny ACE Doe,” was found in the New York City’s 14th Street subway station, which serves the A-C-E lines, by one of his future fathers, Danny. Kevin’s other father, Pete (author Mercurio), serves as the narrator, explaining how the two men came to add the newborn to their family. Readers are given an abridged version of the story from Danny and Pete’s point of view as they work to formally adopt Kevin and bring him home in time for Christmas. The story excels at highlighting the determination of loving fathers while still including realistic moments of hesitation, doubt, and fear that occur for new and soon-to-be parents. The language is mindful of its audience (for example using “piggy banks” instead of “bank accounts” to discuss finances) while never patronizing young readers. Espinosa’s posterlike artwork—which presents the cleanest New York readers are ever likely to see—extends the text and makes use of unexpected angles to heighten emotional scenes and moments of urgency. The diversity of skin tones, ages, and faces (Danny and Pete both present white, and Kevin has light brown skin) befits the Big Apple. Family snapshots and a closing author’s note emphasize that the most important thing in any family is love. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.3-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 43% of actual size.)

A delightful story of love and hope. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-42754-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more