INTO THE WOODS

JOHN JAMES AUDUBON LIVES HIS DREAM

A tribute to the naturalist and artist John J. Audubon pairs verse by the author with quotations from Audubon’s journals. On each page of text are several lines of a poem explaining Audubon’s decision to abandon a life of commerce and take to the woods to pursue his passions: nature and drawing. Much of the poem is in Audubon’s voice and addressed to his father, who had hoped for a different sort of life for his son. Audubon’s intent went beyond his personal enjoyment of nature. He describes holding a beautiful dove in his hands as it died: “And as I watched it die I knew / The world I love is passing too.” He had a mission, a fact he tries to convey to his father: “Fear not, Father, I’m true to you, / I have my whole life’s work to do.” Below the lines of the poem are Audubon’s own words describing his wonder at the natural world: “Who can imagine my dear country’s dark woods, its great forests, its vast Atlantic bays, its thousands of streams, lakes, and magnificent rivers? I wish that I could draw it all!” Both the verse and the quotes from Audubon’s journals are lovely and poignant, although the quotes break the rhythm of the poem. The illustrations include both Minor’s (Cliff Hanger, 2002, etc.) watercolor depictions of Audubon’s wanderings amid nature, paired with some of Audubon’s own drawings of birds. The two are quite compatible in this feast for bird lovers. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-83040-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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