A necessary story about a Native American Medal of Honor recipient that feels like a middle-grade social-studies report.

JACK MONTGOMERY

WORLD WAR II: GALLANTRY AT ANZIO

From the Medal of Honor series , Vol. 1

Cherokee citizen Jack Montgomery fights in battle at Anzio, Italy, during World War II.

Fresh off victories in Sicily and Salerno, the 45th Thunderbirds, a division with some 15,000 Native American troops, continue their push to take the Italian peninsula from Nazi German forces. Despite concerns over the battle plan and the precise whereabouts of German troops, Lt. Jack Montgomery leads his platoon “through the icy cold, knee-deep seawater” to establish a beachhead position. After weeks of fighting “without nearly enough armor” support and facing the “Nazis’ most battled-hardened troops,” Montgomery and his men find themselves outmanned and outgunned. It will take Montgomery’s absolute trust in his men and actions that go “above and beyond the call of duty” in order to weather the German blitzkrieg. Part of a new series about Medal of Honor recipients—its companion book highlights Ryan Pitts’ exploits in Afghanistan—this effort delivers a Corps-load of facts about Montgomery’s life, the 45th Infantry, and WWII itself. Though seemingly well-researched regarding Montgomery and the war, a description of the thunderbird as “mythical” reads as cultural devaluing. A list of U.S. Army ranks and unit definitions precedes the book; Montgomery’s Medal of Honor citation, a glossary, notes, and bibliography make up the backmatter.

A necessary story about a Native American Medal of Honor recipient that feels like a middle-grade social-studies report. (Biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-15706-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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IF YOU LIVED DURING THE PLIMOTH THANKSGIVING

A measured corrective to pervasive myths about what is often referred to as the “first Thanksgiving.”

Contextualizing them within a Native perspective, Newell (Passamaquoddy) touches on the all-too-familiar elements of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and its origins and the history of English colonization in the territory now known as New England. In addition to the voyage and landfall of the Mayflower, readers learn about the Doctrine of Discovery that arrogated the lands of non-Christian peoples to European settlers; earlier encounters between the Indigenous peoples of the region and Europeans; and the Great Dying of 1616-1619, which emptied the village of Patuxet by 1620. Short, two- to six-page chapters alternate between the story of the English settlers and exploring the complex political makeup of the region and the culture, agriculture, and technology of the Wampanoag—all before covering the evolution of the holiday. Refreshingly, the lens Newell offers is a Native one, describing how the Wampanoag and other Native peoples received the English rather than the other way around. Key words ranging from estuary to discover are printed in boldface in the narrative and defined in a closing glossary. Nelson (a member of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa) contributes soft line-and-color illustrations of the proceedings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Essential. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-72637-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

OIL

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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