A dramatic, superbly illustrated account of a little-known story.



The story of how two men and a fortress paved the way to freedom for an entire population.

It is May 1861, and George Scott—a formerly enslaved man hiding in the Virginia town of Hampton—hears the story of three Black men’s escape to a nearby Union fortress. Remarkably, the three men were not returned. After seeing more Black men enter the fortress, Scott decides to have a look for himself. Upon entering Fortress Monroe, he meets Maj. Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler, who interviews newcomers and seeks information about the Confederate soldiers. Butler quickly becomes impressed with Scott’s knowledge of the area and the Confederacy and sends Scott on a special mission—to track the soldiers and relay their whereabouts. Scott’s efforts—and Butler’s decision to keep formerly enslaved people as contraband—save the fortress and contribute to the passing of the Confiscation Act of 1861. The succinct text allows the art to take center stage while relaying pertinent information. What is lost to the brief text is put on display in the rich backmatter, which gives a more in-depth look at life for the contraband and the effect of Butler’s decision to turn the fortress into a place of refuge. The watercolor illustrations present eye-catching images; readers can nearly feel the rough texture of the very woods Scott ran through. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A dramatic, superbly illustrated account of a little-known story. (notes on the aftermath, the contrabands, Benjamin Butler's legacy, George Scott, and Fort Monroe; bibliography; the proclamation on the establishment of the Fort Monroe National Monument) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-63592-582-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Astra Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable...



An extraordinary athlete was also an extraordinary hero.

Gino Bartali grew up in Florence, Italy, loving everything about riding bicycles. After years of studying them and years of endurance training, he won the 1938 Tour de France. His triumph was muted by the outbreak of World War II, during which Mussolini followed Hitler in the establishment of anti-Jewish laws. In the middle years of the conflict, Bartali was enlisted by a cardinal of the Italian church to help Jews by becoming a document courier. His skill as a cyclist and his fame helped him elude capture until 1944. When the war ended, he kept his clandestine efforts private and went on to win another Tour de France in 1948. The author’s afterword explains why his work was unknown. Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum, honored him as a Righteous Among the Nations in 2013. Bartali’s is a life well worth knowing and well worthy of esteem. Fedele’s illustrations in mostly dark hues will appeal to sports fans with their action-oriented scenes. Young readers of World War II stories will gain an understanding from the somber wartime pages.

What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable springboard. (photograph, select bibliography, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68446-063-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Gives readers a fresh and thrilling sense of what it took to make history.


The backstory of a renowned address is revealed.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” is one of the most famous ever given, yet with this book, Wittenstein and Pinkney give young readers new insights into both the speech and the man behind it. When Dr. King arrived in Washington, D.C., for the 1963 March on Washington, the speech was not yet finished. He turned to his fellow civil rights leaders for advice, and after hours of listening, he returned to his room to compose, fine-tuning even the day of the march. He went on to deliver a powerful speech, but as he closed, he moved away from the prepared text and into a stirring sermon. “Martin was done circling. / The lecture was over. / He was going to church, / his place to land, / and taking a congregation / of two hundred and fifty thousand / along for the ride.” Although much hard work still lay ahead, the impact of Dr. King’s dramatic words and delivery elevated that important moment in the struggle for equal rights. Wittenstein’s free-verse narrative perfectly captures the tension leading up to the speech as each adviser urged his own ideas while remaining a supportive community. Pinkney’s trademark illustrations dramatize this and the speech, adding power and further illuminating the sense of historical importance.

Gives readers a fresh and thrilling sense of what it took to make history. (author’s note, lists of advisers and speakers, bibliography, source notes) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4331-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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