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Women Win the Vote! 19 for the 19th Amendment

Nancy B. Kennedy, illus. by Katy Dockrill. Norton Young Readers, $19.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-324-00414-1

Concise profiles portray fiery, complex rabble-rousers, some more well-known than others. Abby Kelley Foster, one of the first suffragettes, admonished the younger generation, “Bloody feet, sisters, have worn smooth the path by which you come up hither.” Other figures who are less commonplace in history texts include Mary Ann Shadd Cary, who wrote to Frederick Douglass, “We should do more and talk less”; Adelina Otero-Warren, who worked tirelessly for ratification of the 19th amendment in New Mexico; and Matilda Joslyn Gage, a passionate activist for women, African-Americans, and Native Americans. More readily known figures include Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony. The poor contrast between typography and background frequently hampers the book’s readability, but the rousing spirit of Kennedy’s writing and Dockrill’s poster-like photo collages shine through. An epilogue, timeline, and extensive notes conclude. Ages 9–12. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 11/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

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The Interactive Constitution: Explore the Constitution with Flaps, Wheels, Color-Changing Words, and More!

David Miles, illus. by Albert Pinilla. Bushel & Peck, $21.99 (16p) ISBN 978-1-73363-352-9

In cheery infographic-style illustrations and chatty but succinct prose, Miles and Pinilla have boiled down the basics of the U.S. Constitution without shortchanging history or legal tradition. While touch-and-feel approximations of parchment and the like feel a bit young for the recommended age, the rest of the interactive features are fine examples of information engineering, like the Advent calendar–style pull-up flaps that reveal every U.S. president and a key quote, and a preamble “decoder” that translates the Founders’ highfalutin’ prose into everyday speech (“tranquility” becomes “peace”). The final pages, devoted to the Bill of Rights and constitutional amendments, strike a particularly fine balance between brevity and detail. Both history geeks and casual students should easily ratify this one. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 11/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Vote for Our Future!

Margaret McNamara, illus. by Micah Player. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-9848-9280-5

Every Election Day, Stanton Elementary School “changes from a school to a POLLING STATION!” And while the kids who attend Stanton are too young to vote, they’ve realized, as McNamara puts it, “Kids have to live with adult choices!” So they’re going to make sure those adults stop making excuses and exercise their right to vote. Player’s digitally drawn cast may sport eager eyes, big smiles, and rosy cheeks, but they will not be denied. The kids canvass, help their own families develop voting plans, and when a woman tells one group she’ll be out of town, little Mia pipes up, “In our state you can vote early!” And it works: the turnout is so big, it covers an entire double gatefold. An exhilarating tribute to junior grassroots organizing that might just inspire a Get an Adult to Vote movement. A list of acts of Congress concludes. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 11/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

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I Voted: Making a Choice Makes a Difference

Mark Shulman, illus. by Serge Bloch. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4561-5

Bloch’s balletic ink line—punctuated with color washes and textural elements in red, white, and blue—and Shulman’s crisp prose means there’ll be no sleeping through this civics class. Beginning with simple personal choices (“Markers or crayons?”) and then a communal decision (deciding on a class pet) the creators explain the mechanics of voting and how to work for a specific result: “You can talk to people who want something different./ Maybe you will change their mind./ Maybe they will change yours.” The editorial cartooning consistently strikes a fine balance between gravitas and fancy: to show why voting matters, Bloch offers up two enticing doorways, one that reads “FREE FOR KIDS” and one that scans “NO KIDS ALLOWED!” Enjoining readers to engage in grown-ups’ elections (“Listen. Read. Talk. Ask”), the text concludes with an overview of government branches. A simple volume with a vital message: “If you don’t vote, you don’t get to choose.” Ages 4–8. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 11/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Equality’s Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America

Deborah Diesen, illus. by Magdalena Mora. Beach Lane, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5344-3958-0

This outspoken tribute to suffrage alternates between a contemporary school where voting rights is the topic at hand, and vignettes that portray the signing of the U.S. Constitution and then forward through the many struggles to make “consent of the governed” a reality for all. Every few pages, Diesen offers the drumbeat-like refrain that insists on the inexorable justice of “Equality’s call” (“A right isn’t right/ Till it’s granted to all”), while Mora’s chalky mixed-media images, which draw on the motifs of Latin American and WPA muralism, show an ever-growing procession of determined people—abolitionists and suffragettes, famous activists and ordinary citizens—who faced and fought obstacles to voting. Every vote today is a nod to this hard-won history, Diesen reminds readers: “Each time we vote,/ We acknowledge that past.” A list of amendments and voting rights activists ends this volume. Ages 3–8. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 11/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

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The Superlative A. Lincoln: Poems About Our 16th President

Eileen R. Myer, illus. by Dave Szalay. Charlesbridge, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-58089-937-6

Meyer offers a sprightly, lilting poem for every milestone and legendary quality associated with the 16th president, building each tribute around a superlative title. “Best Use of an Accessory” details the president’s famous hat, “Strongest Conviction” salutes the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, while “Best Advice” recalls a letter that an 11-year-old wrote him during his presidential campaign: “You’re very tall and awful thin./ You need some whiskers on your chin./ Just keep in mind the time you’ll save/ when you no longer need to shave.” (A short paragraph contextualizes each poem, and a concluding time line provide additional background.) Szalay’s digital illustration have folk art style that fully captures the Rail Splitter’s homespun charisma, while the book’s portrait orientation provides plenty of opportunities to salute Lincoln’s lanky stature. Ages 6–9. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 11/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Who Named Their Pony Macaroni? Poems About White House Pets

Marilyn Singer, illus. by Ryan McAmis. Disney-Hyperion, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4847-8999-5

Singer commemorates a menagerie that’s furry, feathered, and even scaly, all of them “witnesses to history” who kept company with, and occasionally provided consternation for, U.S. presidents and their families. Beginning with George Washington’s hounds, a new breed that he created, and moving forward through time, Singer employs an impressive variety of rhyming schemes in service of the parade of animal names: Veto, the heroic Newfoundland belonging to James Garfield; Emily Spinach, Alice Roosevelt’s pocketbook-toted garter snake; and the titular Macaroni, Carolyn Kennedy’s pony. McAmis’s witty, ingeniously dimensional collages are a treasure, from a view of the Wilsons’ sheep grazing on the White House lawn to LBJ in a pool howling with his beloved mutt Yuki. Ages 6–8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 11/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

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The President of the Jungle

André Rodrigues et al., trans. from the Portuguese by Lyn Miller-Lachmann. Penguin/Paulsen, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-9848-1474-6

When Lion, the King of the Jungle, reroutes the river to create a swimming pool at his house, his subjects promptly launch a demonstration (“#OCCUPYTHEJUNGLE”). But the King is unmoved, so Owl advocates for a new form of government: democracy. After a brief how-to, election rules are drawn up (“Candidates cannot eat their opponents”), and Monkey, Sloth, and Snake announce their candidacies and platforms, with Lion quickly following suit. Debates and mudslinging ensue until Sloth wins and gives a gracious speech promising a coalition “to help us make the jungle a great place for every animal”—while the final page reminds readers that dissatisfied voters will have their say again in a year. Originally published in Brazil (the creators are artists and activists), this savvy, compellingly instructive book uses bright, giddy images created from digitized cut paper and charcoal to embrace the circus-like atmosphere of elections. Ages 5–8. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 11/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Hard Work, but It’s Worth It: The Life of Jimmy Carter

Bethany Hegedus, illus. by Kyung Eun Han. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-264378-0

Growing up on a farm, the boy who would become the 39th U.S. president and a Nobel Peace Prize winner learned the value of hard work: “He brought water to the workingmen, hauled firewood, and tended to the hogs and chickens.” But because that farm was in the segregated South, young Carter also witnessed injustices suffered by people of color every day; at the movies with his best friend, A.D., Jimmy “took a seat on the main floor or the first balcony. But A.D. had to climb to the third floor”—the “Colored Balcony,” where African-Americans were consigned by law. Intertwined qualities of grit and social conscience inform every page of Hegedus’s sensitive, uplifting biography, while Han’s reportorial digital illustrations reflect Carter’s unpretentious character. Grown-ups may continue to debate the subject’s efficacy as president, but in these pages readers will see a man whose determination and principles have guided him throughout his accomplished life. An author’s note and timeline conclude. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 11/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Future President

Lori Alexander, illus. by Allison Black. Cartwheel, $8.99 (24p) ISBN 978-1-338-31224-9

“Could you be president?” Alexander asks readers of this entry in the Future Baby board book series. The answer is most certainly yes, based on Black’s colorful cartoons that compare an inclusive array of adult POTUSes on the left side of each spread with similarly diverse babies and toddlers on the right (all the characters share the same sunny smiles and eager, doe-like eyes). Just as many presidents do, Baby “knows how to lead” (a child pulls a doll-laden cart), understands how to make compelling speeches (“Mama!”), enjoys working in oval spaces (a tot sits beneath an ovoid baby gym), and rides in many different vehicles with aplomb. Baby even “keeps the peace” by sharing with a peer. A list of fun facts (“The president lives and works in the White House”) concludes this aspirational intro to an important gig. Ages up to 3. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 11/22/2019 | Details & Permalink

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