This interesting history lacks nuance and perspective.

LINCOLN CLEARS A PATH

ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S AGRICULTURAL LEGACY

This biography of President Abraham Lincoln focuses on his lasting impact on the use of the land.

Beginning with his family’s creation of a farm out of woodland when he was 7 and ending with the Emancipation Proclamation, the narrative follows Lincoln’s life experiences as farmer, entrepreneur, and self-educated statesman, all the way to the presidency. The support American farmers sent to the troops in the Civil War apparently prompted Lincoln to “clear a path for America’s future” with several acts of legislation: creation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the Homestead Act, which granted 160 acres to “any citizen or immigrant, farmer or merchant, man or woman, who wanted a fair chance to make it on their own”; and the Pacific Railway Act. The creation of land-grant colleges is also given a full spread; the Emancipation Proclamation is given one page of two sentences. Innerst creates engaging, sepia-toned scenes with watercolor-based artwork, and the design of the spreads, with dark paper and handwritten lettering for quotations from Lincoln’s writings, gives the feel of old documents. Sadly, the story feels dated as well; the brief backmatter mentions of the devastation settlers and the railroads caused to Indigenous nations and ways of life are grossly inadequate; the racist definition of citizens and immigrants is not addressed; and the attempt to include the contradiction of slavery within the ideal of “liberty to all” falls short, as the glorification of Lincoln as land-use innovator causes those who were excluded to fall through the gaps. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 58.5% of actual size.)

This interesting history lacks nuance and perspective. (author’s note, historical facts, websites, selected bibliography) (Informational picture book. 6-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68437-153-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few...

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT FREEDOM

Shamir offers an investigation of the foundations of freedoms in the United States via its founding documents, as well as movements and individuals who had great impacts on shaping and reshaping those institutions.

The opening pages of this picture book get off to a wobbly start with comments such as “You know that feeling you get…when you see a wide open field that you can run through without worrying about traffic or cars? That’s freedom.” But as the book progresses, Shamir slowly steadies the craft toward that wide-open field of freedom. She notes the many obvious-to-us-now exclusivities that the founding political documents embodied—that the entitled, white, male authors did not extend freedom to enslaved African-Americans, Native Americans, and women—and encourages readers to learn to exercise vigilance and foresight. The gradual inclusion of these left-behind people paints a modestly rosy picture of their circumstances today, and the text seems to give up on explaining how Native Americans continue to be left behind. Still, a vital part of what makes freedom daunting is its constant motion, and that is ably expressed. Numerous boxed tidbits give substance to the bigger political picture. Who were the abolitionists and the suffragists, what were the Montgomery bus boycott and the “Uprising of 20,000”? Faulkner’s artwork conveys settings and emotions quite well, and his drawing of Ruby Bridges is about as darling as it gets. A helpful timeline and bibliography appear as endnotes.

A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few misfires. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54728-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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