SACRED SONG OF THE HERMIT THRUSH

A NATIVE AMERICAN LEGEND

A Mohawk pourquoi tale explains how the hermit thrush and other birds got their songs.

“Long ago, the Birds had no songs,” the story opens; only humans sang. On a visit to Earth, the Good Spirit notices the silence until he hears chanting coming from “an Indian village,” depicted as several longhouses, smoke rising gently above them. The Good Spirit decides to give song to the birds, calling them together and telling them, “You are to fly as high as you can….The Bird that flies the highest will have the most beautiful song.” Hermit Thrush knows he has no chance against stronger flyers such as Akweks, the bald eagle, so he sneaks under the eagle’s feathers and rides up till even Akweks can fly no higher. Thus only Hermit Thrush is able to reach the Spirit World, from which he descends with the most beautiful song—and sudden, crushing shame at his trickery. “That is why Hermit Thrush is so shy.” Illustrator Fadden (Akwesasne Mohawk) is the grandson of the author, a teacher at the St. Regis Mohawk School who was adopted into the Mohawk Wolf Clan and given the name Tehanetorens. (He died in 2008.) The telling is stately, with a steady, oral cadence. The dappled paintings offer field guide–worthy images of the bird characters and depict the Good Spirit with brown skin and long, straight black hair.

Lovely. (Picture book/religion. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-939053-26-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: 7th Generation

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A simple but effective look at a keystone species.

IF YOU TAKE AWAY THE OTTER

Sea otters are the key to healthy kelp forests on the Pacific coast of North America.

There have been several recent titles for older readers about the critical role sea otters play in the coastal Pacific ecosystem. This grand, green version presents it to even younger readers and listeners, using a two-level text and vivid illustrations. Biologist Buhrman-Deever opens as if she were telling a fairy tale: “On the Pacific coast of North America, where the ocean meets the shore, there are forests that have no trees.” The treelike forms are kelp, home to numerous creatures. Two spreads show this lush underwater jungle before its king, the sea otter, is introduced. A delicate balance allows this system to flourish, but there was a time that hunting upset this balance. The writer is careful to blame not the Indigenous peoples who had always hunted the area, but “new people.” In smaller print she explains that Russian explorations spurred the development of an international fur trade. Trueman paints the scene, concentrating on an otter family threatened by formidable harpoons from an abstractly rendered person in a small boat, with a sailing ship in the distance. “People do not always understand at first the changes they cause when they take too much.” Sea urchins take over; a page turn reveals a barren landscape. Happily, the story ends well when hunting stops and the otters return…and with them, the kelp forests.

A simple but effective look at a keystone species. (further information, select bibliography, additional resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8934-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president.

HONEY, THE DOG WHO SAVED ABE LINCOLN

A slice of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood life is explored through a fictionalized anecdote about his dog Honey.

When 7-year-old Abe rescues a golden-brown dog with a broken leg, he takes the pup home to the Lincolns’ cabin in Knob Creek, Kentucky. Honey follows Abe everywhere, including trailing after his owner into a deep cave. When Abe gets stuck between rocks, Honey goes for help and leads a search party back to the trapped boy for a dramatic rescue. The source for this story was a book incorporating the memories of Abe’s boyhood friend, explained in an author’s note. The well-paced text includes invented dialogue attributed to Abe and his parents. Abe’s older sister, Sarah, is not mentioned in the text and is shown in the illustrations as a little girl younger than Abe. All the characters present white save for one black man in the rescue crew. An oversized format and multiple double-page spreads provide plenty of space for cartoon-style illustrations of the Lincoln cabin, the surrounding countryside, and the spooky cave where Abe was trapped. This story focuses on the incident in the cave and Abe’s rescue; a more complete look at Lincoln’s life is included in an appended timeline and the author’s note, both of which include references to Lincoln’s kindness to animals and to other pets he owned.

This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-269900-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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