A fascinating introduction to one of the greatest hoaxes of all time, deftly pitched to elementary-age children.

FAIRY SPELL

HOW TWO GIRLS CONVINCED THE WORLD THAT FAIRIES ARE REAL

Long before there was Photoshop, in the days when photography was an infant technology, a teenager produced photographs that convinced the world fairies are real.

When 9-year-old Frances Griffiths told her disbelieving parents she saw fairies by the waterfall behind their country house in England, Frances’ 16-year-old cousin, Elsie Wright, wanted to prove Frances’ story. She painted paper fairies and photographed them. Then she took photos showing the girls interacting with the dainty winged creatures in the valley behind Elsie’s house. The girls never meant to fool the world, but the photographs fell into the hands of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Like Frances, Conan Doyle believed in fairies, and in 1920 he published the photographs in the widely read Strand magazine and wrote that he believed they were conclusive proof of the existence of fairies. After experts declared the pictures genuine and Conan Doyle’s article appeared, an innocent prank turned into a hoax that lasted until Frances and Elsie finally revealed their secret over 60 years later. Nobleman introduces readers to this remarkable story in a compact, engaging narrative that’s respectful to its young audience. Complementing Wheeler’s delicate, detailed illustrations of the all-white human cast and its middle-class English milieu are reproductions of the famed photographs.

A fascinating introduction to one of the greatest hoaxes of all time, deftly pitched to elementary-age children. (author’s note, not seen) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-69948-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston...

BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET

A memorable, lyrical reverse-chronological walk through the life of an American icon.

In free verse, Cline-Ransome narrates the life of Harriet Tubman, starting and ending with a train ride Tubman takes as an old woman. “But before wrinkles formed / and her eyes failed,” Tubman could walk tirelessly under a starlit sky. Cline-Ransome then describes the array of roles Tubman played throughout her life, including suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. By framing the story around a literal train ride, the Ransomes juxtapose the privilege of traveling by rail against Harriet’s earlier modes of travel, when she repeatedly ran for her life. Racism still abounds, however, for she rides in a segregated train. While the text introduces readers to the details of Tubman’s life, Ransome’s use of watercolor—such a striking departure from his oil illustrations in many of his other picture books—reveals Tubman’s humanity, determination, drive, and hope. Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson’s Moses (2006). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president.

HONEY, THE DOG WHO SAVED ABE LINCOLN

A slice of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood life is explored through a fictionalized anecdote about his dog Honey.

When 7-year-old Abe rescues a golden-brown dog with a broken leg, he takes the pup home to the Lincolns’ cabin in Knob Creek, Kentucky. Honey follows Abe everywhere, including trailing after his owner into a deep cave. When Abe gets stuck between rocks, Honey goes for help and leads a search party back to the trapped boy for a dramatic rescue. The source for this story was a book incorporating the memories of Abe’s boyhood friend, explained in an author’s note. The well-paced text includes invented dialogue attributed to Abe and his parents. Abe’s older sister, Sarah, is not mentioned in the text and is shown in the illustrations as a little girl younger than Abe. All the characters present white save for one black man in the rescue crew. An oversized format and multiple double-page spreads provide plenty of space for cartoon-style illustrations of the Lincoln cabin, the surrounding countryside, and the spooky cave where Abe was trapped. This story focuses on the incident in the cave and Abe’s rescue; a more complete look at Lincoln’s life is included in an appended timeline and the author’s note, both of which include references to Lincoln’s kindness to animals and to other pets he owned.

This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-269900-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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