A NICKEL, A TROLLEY, A TREASURE HOUSE

Baker spins a gentle tale, based on a shard of her family history, about looking at art, and what can be seen there. Nine-year-old Lionel lives with his family on Ludlow Street, in New York City, just after the turn of the last century. What he loves more than anything is to draw, but he keeps his sketches carefully hidden between cardboard. His teacher has seen the drawings, and promises him a trip on the trolley. Lionel spends a lot of the story fretting about how to get the nickel for the trolley ride, but Miss Morrissey pays for him and takes him to the Metropolitan Museum of Art after school. It looks like a palace from his schoolbooks, and he is astounded at the pictures there for all to see. Lionel’s Polish roots and Jewish faith are evident but not explicit; the cramped quarters of his tenement and his parents’ disapproval of his drawing are more so. Peck renders her pictures in a burnished sepia impasto; thick skeins of paint limn the trolley, Lionel’s cap, Miss Morrissey’s green coat and matching hat and the great halls of the museum. A lovely way to see how the whole wide world can open like a flower if you know how to see. (author’s note) (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-670-05982-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS

Fact and fiction dovetail neatly in this tale of a wonderfully resolute child who finds a memorable way to convince her father that the newly-finished Brooklyn Bridge is safe to cross. Having watched the great bridge going up for most of her young life, Hannah is eager to walk it, but despite repeated, fact-laced appeals to reason (and Hannah is a positive fount of information about its materials and design), her father won’t be moved: “No little girl of mine will cross that metal monster!” Hannah finally hatches a far-fetched plan to convince him once and for all; can she persuade the renowned P.T. Barnum to march his corps of elephants across? She can, and does (actually, he was already planning to do it). Pham places Hannah, radiating sturdy confidence, within sepia-toned, exactly rendered period scenes that capture both the grandeur of the bridge in its various stages of construction, and the range of expressions on the faces of onlookers during its opening ceremonies and after. Readers will applaud Hannah’s polite persistence. (afterword, resources) (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-87011-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2004

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A rousing introduction to the life of a voyageur told from a unique perspective.

THE LITTLEST VOYAGEUR

Stowing away with French Canadian fur traders in 1792, a loquacious red squirrel embarks on a life-changing adventure.

Each spring, Jean Pierre Petit Le Rouge, a squirrel with wanderlust, watches brave, strong voyageurs depart in canoes from Montreal and return the following autumn. Determined to be a voyageur, Le Rouge hides in a canoe paddled by eight stout voyageurs, part of a brigade of five. Soon his incessant chattering distracts the voyageurs, who become separated from the rest of the brigade, but, after ascending the highest tree, he points the crew back on course. More than once, pesky Le Rouge barely escapes becoming squirrel ragout. He’s just beginning to feel like a real voyageur when they reach the trading post on Lake Superior, where he discovers the voyageurs exchanging their cargo for animal skins to return to Montreal. Heartsick, Le Rouge decides he cannot be a voyageur if it involves trading animal skins, unless he can change things. Le Rouge relates his story with drama and flair, presenting a colorful prism through which to view the daily life of a voyageur. Peppered with historical facts and (italicized) French phrases and names, this exciting, well-documented tale (with a contemporary animal-rights subtext) proves educational and entertaining. Realistic pencil drawings highlight Le Rouge’s memorable journey.

A rousing introduction to the life of a voyageur told from a unique perspective. (map, pronunciation guide, historical and biological notes, recipe, further reading) (Historical fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4247-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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