THE BIRDS OF KILLINGSWORTH

In contrast to the common tendency to set straightforward stories for children in rhyme, San Souci (The Silver Charm, below, etc.) has taken a narrative poem and set it in prose. Unfortunately, this adaptation of Longfellow’s poem of the same name does not quite work as a picture book. Although the proto-environmental theme of the original will appeal to contemporary children, the modified narrative is lengthier and less cohesive than would be expected in a story written explicitly and originally for children of picture-book age. Only some of the character and story line changes are mentioned in the author’s note, and only some are successful. That schoolchildren participate in saving birds the townspeople have voted to kill for the sake of the crops does make the story more relevant to young readers, but confusion results from the changing of the character of Almira from a helpless townswoman with no voice in the matter to a vocal supporter of the birds. She argues in favor of the birds for the sake of their “sweet songs.” The Squire later admits she was right, but it was not the lack of birdsong that convinced the townspeople they were wrong. Rather, they dislike the resulting overpopulation of insects, an eventuality the schoolteacher warns about in the original. A nice touch in both versions is Almira’s marriage to the schoolteacher amid the tune of restored birdsong. Root’s (The Storytelling Princess, 2001, etc.) soft, delicate watercolor-and-pencil illustrations in pastel shades alternate between spot illustrations and full-page depictions of events framed by detailed borders, which add a folkloric air to the story. Occasional humorous detail for careful readers include a hunter tripping over his gun as a raccoon leaps onto his head, presumably in an attempt to protect its fellow creatures. Despite its narrative faults, this adaptation is attractively presented, and does have academic value: adults can use it to introduce children to Longfellow’s poetry and to environmentalism. Without an adult’s encouragement, however, young readers may not pick this up or stay with it on their own. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2111-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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THREE YOUNG PILGRIMS

Mary, Remember, and Bartholomew Allerton were among the youngest on the Mayflower's first voyage; the words here tell how, with the other newcomers, they suffer tremendous losses but gradually come to view Plymouth as home. Meanwhile, the author's paintings expand considerably on the text with a fanciful map of the journey, a cutaway view of the ship, and crowd scenes of planting, harvest, and thanksgiving. The children, introduced in the first paragraph, don't appear in the illustrations, and are not the focus of any picture, until well into the book. The ongoing disparity between text and art is unsettling; moreover, the text is often clumsy: After the death of Mary—last of the original group—the narrative leaps back to a confusing, incomplete explanation of the Pilgrims' origins. The panoramic watercolors are attractive, with expertly composed, cinematic scenes, but the text, pursuing its separate agenda, regrettably never catches up. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-02-742643-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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Rappaport makes this long struggle palpable and relevant, while Faulkner adds a winning mix of gravitas and high spirits.

ELIZABETH STARTED ALL THE TROUBLE

Rappaport examines the salient successes and raw setbacks along the 144-year-long road between the nation’s birth and women’s suffrage.

This lively yet forthright narrative pivots on a reality that should startle modern kids: women’s right to vote was only achieved in 1920, 72 years after Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Indeed, time’s passage figures as a textual motif, connecting across decades such determined women as Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucy Stone. They spoke tirelessly, marched, organized, and got arrested. Rappaport includes events such as 1913’s Women’s Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C., but doesn’t shy from divisive periods like the Civil War. Faulkner’s meticulously researched gouache-and-ink illustrations often infuse scenes with humor by playing with size and perspective. As Stanton and Lucretia Mott sail into London in 1840 for the World Anti-Slavery Conference, Faulkner depicts the two women as giants on the ship’s upper deck. On the opposite page, as they learn they’ll be barred as delegates, they’re painted in miniature, dwarfed yet unflappable beneath a gallery full of disapproving men. A final double-page spread mingles such modern stars as Shirley Chisholm and Sonia Sotomayor amid the historical leaders.

Rappaport makes this long struggle palpable and relevant, while Faulkner adds a winning mix of gravitas and high spirits. (biographical thumbnails, chronology, sources, websites, further reading, author’s note) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7868-5142-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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