Like the Vasa, this feels not quite seaworthy.

THE SINKING OF THE VASA

A SHIPWRECK OF TITANIC PROPORTIONS

Who’s to blame when everything goes wrong?

In the early 1600s, King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden ordered the construction of a mighty warship to be the flagship of his navy. After two years’ construction, the mighty Vasa was ready to sail on the afternoon of Aug. 10, 1628. Less than a mile into its maiden voyage, the Vasa, along with her crew and their families, sank into Stockholm’s harbor. After the calamity, Sweden began an investigation into why the ship so easily capsized. The results were inconclusive, although Freedman implies that the king’s desire for a superfluity of cannons may have been the cause. Centuries later, in the mid-1950s, the Vasa was raised and restored. Now housed in the Stockholm Museum, the Vasa is a popular tourist attraction. Freedman provides a lot of information to his readers, but with its compression into the picture-book format, the pacing is rushed. The ending—relating a reclaimed cannon to Sweden’s history of peace—feels tangential at best. Hopefully, curious readers will seek out the additional information about the Vasa, shipwrecks, and restoration provided in the bibliography. Low’s digital illustrations are sumptuous and stunning, and they could pass for traditional paintings. It’s unfortunate that the text does not live up to the artwork.

Like the Vasa, this feels not quite seaworthy. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62779-866-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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The artwork of this brief look at the Himalayas has a charm that the text struggles to reflect.

HIMALAYA

THE WONDERS OF THE MOUNTAINS THAT TOUCH THE SKY

A quick visit through the mountain range that features some of the world’s highest peaks.

Snowy peaks rear up in the backgrounds in Beorlegi’s jewel-toned illustrations, but the visual focus is consistently at their feet—on towns, temples, dark-skinned residents in shimmering work or festival garb beneath strings of fluttering prayer flags, and flora and fauna in verdant landscapes. In the randomly ordered series of, mostly, locale-based spreads, the author offers terse descriptions of Durbar Square in Kathmandu and the Buddha’s birthplace in Lumbini, links Rishikesh along the upper Ganges to the practice of yoga, spotlights the snow leopard in a section on the Indian state of Arunchal Pradesh, and ultimately brings the tour to an abrupt end by rhapsodizing over Kailash, a mountain considered so sacred to several religious traditions that climbers are not allowed. The art’s saturated colors are eye-catching, but along with producing an occasional line more overblown than lyrical (“In a monumental effort to reach the stars, these mountains became the highest…”), the author opaquely characterizes Nepal as a “gateway” between India and China. She also mistakenly claims that pagodas are largely associated with Hindu worship and devotes a spread to Tibetan ethnic groups without actually identifying any of them. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The artwork of this brief look at the Himalayas has a charm that the text struggles to reflect. (map) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-914519-28-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orange Mosquito

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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Lively, lucid, and timely.

WHEN YOU GROW UP TO VOTE

HOW OUR GOVERNMENT WORKS FOR YOU

Updated for a modern audience, the pre-eminent first lady’s views on what government is and does and why having a voice in it all matters.

The female and nonwhite firefighters, garbage collectors, public officials, and jurors in Lin’s bright, racially and gender-diverse illustrations—not to mention references in the narrative to calling 911, to “alderpersons,” and “selectpeople”—were likely not in the original 1932 edition. It’s easy, though, to hear Roosevelt, or at least her voice, in the pellucid descriptions of how local, state, and national governments are organized and the kinds of services they are charged with providing, both in the common-sense tone (“What seems good to you might not be good for the rest of the nation”) and in the inspirational message: “Marking your ballot is one of the most important—and exciting—things you’ll ever do.” Also at least partly new are descriptive notes about each amendment to the Constitution and each position in contemporary presidents’ cabinets, plus an eye-opening explanation of how electoral results can be manipulated through gerrymandering (using “blue” and “purple” voters as examples). Further comments by Roosevelt on citizenship and a brief biography focusing on her causes and character lead in to a short but choice set of more detailed sources of information about her life and work.

Lively, lucid, and timely. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-879-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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