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Horn Book Review
(Intermediate) Illustrated with photographs in color by Matthew Cavanaugh. This bustling photo essay provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse of spring training from a batboy's perspective. Appealing, candid photographs on well-composed spreads show the range of thirteen-year-old Kenny Garibaldi's duties during a busy day in the clubhouse in Scottsdale, Arizona, the training grounds for the San Francisco Giants. He sorts uniforms, delivers fan mail, cleans shoes, and takes out the garbage. The work is strenuous and unremitting, but Kenny has moments that any Little Leaguer would envy. The Giants' star catcher offers him his old knee pads and face mask; he shares a pizza with baseball legend Willy Mays; and he helps a rookie pitcher relax over a game of cards. Kenny is kept just as busy during the game, fetching towels, rosin, and balls, retrieving helmets and bats thrown by the players, and helping to keep up the smooth flow of the game by darting swiftly and unobtrusively on and off the field. The author does not present a romanticized image of the world of baseball: many of the players will be cut from the team at the end of spring training, and tensions can run high. For all his youthful energy and enthusiasm, even Kenny is dragging at the end of a long double-header. But for this batboy, or for any starstruck young reader, this nuts-and-bolts view of spring training provides a valuable lesson. Glossary. n.v. Joan Anderson Cowboys: Roundup on an American Ranch (Picture Book) Illustrated with photographs in color by George Ancona. Detailed text and vivid photographs tell the story of two boys who help their parents and other cowboys with the annual roundup on the Eby family's New Mexico ranch. The cattle, which graze on the seventy-five-acre property, must be gathered together at the ranch where they are cared for and branded, and some are shipped off for sale. Ancona's brilliant full-color photographs capture the excitement and hard work of the process and portray the beauty of the countryside. Anderson's informative text conveys the cowboys' love of and respect for their work. Her tone is matter-of-fact and descriptive: she explains that when calves are branded, it leaves the "smell of burning flesh" in the air. The Eby family are modern-day cowboys, and their portrayal provides a good balance of reality to the fictitious cowboy lore that still permeates American culture. Anderson's intriguing details, combined with Ancona's photographs and the handsome book design, make this an appealing and instructive book that will attract an enthusiastic readership. m.v.k. Joanna Cole Riding Silver Star (Younger) Illustrated with photographs in color by Margaret Miller. Horse lovers will be drawn to this photo essay featuring novice rider Abigail Allen and her horse, Silver Star. Large photographs, one per page, are accompanied by a brief, easy-to-read text that shows Abby tending to the animal as she prepares him for a lesson. In an engaging first-person narrative, Abby grooms Star, attaches the saddle and bridle, and dons her own gear, from hard hat to boots. Some points of good horsemanship are described as Abby proceeds through her lesson in preparation for an upcoming show, after which she cools Star down, cleans out his stall, and feeds him. The narrative also takes readers along on a trail ride, a picnic with other riders, and the horse show where, after a few initial jitters, Abby and Star conduct themselves well enough to win a ribbon. The horse show adds a touch of glamour, but the emphasis is on the warm relationship between horse and rider. Abby's declaration at the conclusion that "the most fun of all is just riding Silver Star" is apparent throughout the book and markedly reinforced by the sunny, carefully composed photographs. n.v. David Hautzig, Author-Photographer Pedal Power: How a Mountain Bike Is Made (Picture Book) Bicycles, so common that we take them for granted, are surprising in both their short history and their complex construction. Early in his handsome photo essay, David Hautzig points out that mountain bikes, developed less than twenty years ago, now make up seventy per cent of all bike sales in the United States. A brief bit of history is followed by a well-organized, lucid discussion of the manufacture and dynamics of major parts of the bicycle. Hautzig wisely avoids larger factory scenes and overly detailed explanations that create confusion in most children's books on this subject. His striking photographs in varied sizes focus on the tasks of individual workers and offer dramatic views of wheels, frames, and mechanical units. The photographic artistry is not quite matched in the overall book construction, however. Captions are informative but sometimes awkwardly interrupt the text; one caption (on the facing of tubes) even seems to contradict an explanation in the text. The diagram of the parts on a fully assembled mountain bike omits some of the parts discussed later, and unaccountably there is no discussion of handlebar design. Though the presentation could have used some fine-tuning, the book is an intelligent introduction to what makes a bicycle work and an appealing companion to Hautzig's earlier A Thousand Miles in Twelve Days: Pro Cyclists on Tour (Lodestar). m.a.b. Donna M. Jackson The Bone Detectives: How Forensic Anthropologists Solve Crimes and Uncover Mysteries of the Dead (Intermediate) Illustrated with photographs in color by Charlie Fellenbaum. Mysteries of the dead are indeed fascinating, as revealed in this introduction to the work of scientists and artists who extract clues from skulls and other human bones to determine identity. Shelves of skulls, their teeth in various stages of disrepair, fill the large cover in a view sure to attract some readers and repel others. The discussion focuses on a skull found in a Missouri Boy Scout camp and follows the stages of study as police and anthropologists work to identify a murder victim, solve the crime, and prosecute the perpetrator. Small photographs are sprinkled liberally through the volume. A particularly interesting sequence follows the work of a forensic sculptor as she re-creates the face of the Missouri woman using only the information gleaned from her bones. The well-organized presentation thoughtfully explains characteristics of human bones and scientific tasks. Animal bones and bones from history are also among the forensic studies described here. The intriguing subject is well served by the informative and readable account. Final pages include descriptions of tasks done by assorted computer specialists, toxicologists, and examiners of documents, hair and fiber, and firearms. A glossary and labeled diagrams of the human skeleton are included. m.a.b. Kathleen Krull Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought) (Intermediate) Illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt. The author and illustrator of Lives of the Musicians and Lives of the Writers (both Harcourt) team up a third time to present twenty of the world's greatest artists. Once again, Krull's brief biographies provide basic facts as well as intriguing details of unusual circumstances or personality traits. The selection of subjects ranges from the famous (Michelangelo Buonarroti) to the infamous (Andy Warhol) to the less well known, including Sofonisba Anguissola, an Italian Renaissance painter who achieved great success in her time in spite of the generally accepted belief that women were "inferior versions of men." Hewitt's cariacature-like illustrations reflect and extend the lively text, which focuses on the subjects' lives. As in previous volumes, only brief notes about the creators' works appear at the end of each chapter, and reproductions are conspicuously lacking in this full-color illustrated volume. Still, the accessible introduction to these fascinating individuals should spur readers' interest in the even more fascinating world of their art. Bibliography, glossary, and index. l.a. Carol Lerner, Author-Illustrator Backyard Birds of Summer (Intermediate) The busy summer season can be a stressful time for birds. Carol Lerner's lovely handbook explains how human assistance can be provided through backyard feeders, birdbaths, and an appropriate choice of plants. The book features readable fact-filled entries with life-size paintings of the male and female of several fairly common migrators that can often be enticed to yards where food and water are available. Lerner points out that most species introduced in her earlier Backyard Birds of Winter (Morrow) will also be present in summer, along with the migratory visitors. The summer birds include grosbeaks, buntings, catbirds, hummingbirds, orioles, and tanagers, along with wrens, swallows, and bluebirds. Appealing and useful for bird watchers of all ages. m.a.b. Sandra Markle Outside and Inside Sharks (Picture Book) Illustrated with photographs in color. Shark skin and sensibilities are among the many physical attributes of this intriguing ocean predator that are examined here in lucid explanations and close-up photographs. Sandra Markle explains how sharks differ from their cousins, the bony fish, in their skeletons, gills, and assorted body parts and senses. Along with the requisite examination of the shark's toothy mouth, there is photographic scrutiny of the inside of the spinal column, ear canals, eye, heart, stomach, and liver. Baby sharks are viewed as they develop in utero and in egg cases, as well as in the process of being born or hatching. As in her previous Outside and Inside animal books, Markle writes with arresting clarity. "When the prey is about as close as two city buses parked end to end, most sharks can see it. Fast-swimming hunters, like the blue shark, usually have better vision than sharks that lie still and ambush prey." The interesting variety of species featured and the cogent examination of the shark's well-equipped body make this a first-rate science lesson. A pronunciation guide, a short set of "amazing shark facts," and a glossary/index are included. m.a.b. Faith Ringgold, Author-Illustrator My Dream of Martin Luther King g (Picture Book) Through a sequence of multilayered dreams, Ringgold presents a personal picture-book biography of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. The book's narrator falls asleep while watching a television program about Dr. King and dreams about his life. Ringgold makes use of the license to distort that a dream allows: she blends known details from Dr. King's life with imagined incidents from his childhood, such as having him present at the Montgomery bus boycott. The author-artist uses subdued, flat tones to illustrate the dream scenes, which include a peaceful march that turns chaotic when police use fire hoses to knock down demonstrators; King's "I have a dream speech"; and his assassination. Ringgold's dream forms the basis of the book's final double-page spread, which lingers in the mind long after the book is closed: people of all ages and diverse backgrounds mourning Dr. King's death by emptying bags containing their "prejudice, hate, ignorance, violence, and fear" in trade "for the slain hero's dream." When the last bag is dumped, the words "Every good thing starts with a dream" appear in the sky. Ringgold evokes intense emotion by concentrating on the faces - especially the eyes - of the people who appear in her dream. In this way readers are drawn into Dr. King's vision of peace and experience horror and sadness at his death. His nonviolent efforts to end segregation come through clearly, and the book's directly stated message becomes more powerful and accessible with repeated readings. The brief chronology that appears at the book's conclusion helps set the facts straight. An inspiring portrait of a person whom many consider one of the twentieth century's greatest peacemakers. ellen fader Seymour Simon Wildfires (Picture Book) Illustrated with photographs in color. Seymour Simon moves beyond the rash of children's books inspired by the 1988 fires in Yellowstone National Park to explain the phenomenon of fire as a cyclical event in nature's scheme. Bold, full-page photographs depict the raging fires at Yellowstone, controlled burning of saw grass in Everglades National Park, and examples of the black-and-green mosaic as new growth is generated after aged plant life burns. Simon explains natural combustion, the effects and benefits of fire for plants and animals, and the larger cycles of fire occurring in different plant regions over long periods of history. Human responsibility and decision-making are viewed in the context of the power of natural fire. Which fires should be fought? Which allowed to burn? Often the balance between human interests and the requirements of nature is precarious. As in his many other beautifully constructed photo essays, Simon provides an illuminating and thought-provoking view of nature. m.a.b. Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve The Cherokees (Picture Book) Illustrated by Ronald Himler. Any book that begins with a wonderfully clear, cleanly drawn map starts off on the right foot as far as I am concerned. From that point, the author continues with a sound treatment of the Cherokee people that will encourage youngsters to read further. In direct, uncomplicated sentences she relates their tragic history, their customs, and their accomplishments. The division of the people into Eastern and Western groups following their removal from Georgia is described, as are the many treaties made and broken by the United States government. The delivery of information is straightforward, with no editorial comment, but the facts alone speak volumes of blame. Nicely executed paintings add detail, clarify the text, and contribute to the reader's understanding of history. A solid entry in the "First Americans" series. Index. e.s.w. H Rosemary Sutcliff The Wanderings of Odysseus: The Story of The Odyssey (Intermediate) Illustrated by Alan Lee. Poetic without being self-conscious, cadenced without seeming artificial, this prose retelling of Homer's great work retains the epic grandeur of the original yet addresses the comprehension of contemporary listeners. The brief prologue refers to events recounted in the Iliad and sets the scene for Odysseus's many adventures "on the long sea-road back to Ithaca." Though the stories are virtually as old as memory, it is unlikely that they have ever been better narrated for young audiences. Whether he is outwitting the Cyclops, overcoming the enchantments of Circe, or venturing into the Land of the Dead, each episode reveals different facets of Odysseus's character. His ultimate triumph over the false suitors for his wife's hand and his reunion with her are both dignified and romantic. Sutcliff's retelling is restrained in the tradition of Greek art; the drama is inherent in her use of imagery, but she appeals to the mind, not merely to the senses. This same quality underlies Alan Lee's spectacular watercolor illustrations. Motifs from Greek art - particularly the draping of the figures - are incorporated into his personal vision for the Odyssey, which is, after all, a universal experience. A map and brief pronunciation guide are appended to this handsome volume. m.m.b. Kate Waters Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times g (Picture Book) Illustrated with photographs in color by Russ Kendall. In a companion to Sarah Morton's Day and Samuel Eaton's Day (both Scholastic), the author and photographer tell the story of a Wampanoag boy living near Plimoth Colony in the 1620s. A contemporary Wampanoag boy is photographed to re-create the dress, customs, and environment of the period. The first-person narration brings the reader into the mind of a boy hoping to be chosen for initiation as a pnises, or warrior counselor. Tapenum hunts rabbit and squirrel, fishes with a friend, and spends time with a wise old man in the hope of learning the secrets of being selected to become a warrior. The text is readable, the photographs are handsome, and the material has been meticulously researched for accuracy. More detailed information about the Wampanoag Indians and a glossary are included at the end of the book. m.v.k. Diane Wolkstein Esther's Story (Picture Book) Illustrated by Juan Wijngaard. In a brief, prefatory author's note, Wolkstein states that she has interwoven incidents from the biblical Book of Esther with selections from the oral tradition in her portrayal of the young Jewish girl who risked social status, position, and life itself to save her people from certain death. By designing her narrative as a diary written by Esther, wife of the great Persian king Ahasuerus, Wolkstein offers a plausible interpretation of the conflicting emotions that must have plagued the young woman as she prepared to wager her wit, beauty, and charm against the machinations of the king's favorite minister, the evil Haman, as he anticipated the wholesale slaughter of the Jews and seizure of their property. Beginning with Esther's childhood, the diary records the events leading to her coronation as queen, selected details of palace life and intrigue, and her carefully orchestrated and inspired triumph when she reveals herself as a Jew and persuades the King to find some means for countermanding the deadly orders promulgated by Haman. Following that climactic moment, the tone becomes more reminiscent as an aging Esther talks about the earliest celebrations of Purim - a discussion of which is expanded in an afterword. As a folklorist and storyteller, Wolkstein offers her readers the best of both approaches to the past: she is aware of the constraints of tradition yet knows how a narrative should be shaped. Consequently, she has selected incidents that advance the story and have the necessary dramatic intensity to create excitement. It is this latter element that is so ably matched in Wijngaard's elegant, glowing full-color illustrations. Opulently designed, painstakingly detailed, richly allusive, they suggest Persian art while retaining their own integrity in a handsome tribute to female heroism. m.m.b. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.