Dorothea’s Eyes: Dorothea Lange
Photographs the Truth.
By Barb Rosenstock. Illus. by Gerard
Mar. 2016. 40p. Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek, $16.95
(9781629792088). 920. K–Gr. 3.
An oversize portrait of those titular grey-green eyes introduce Dorothea’s special talent
at seeing details in objects and faces that others might miss. When Dorothea was seven, she
contracted polio, and her forever-withered leg
caused kids to call her “Limpy.” Feeling invisible, she learned to be watchful and curious,
“seeing with her eyes and her heart.” Dorothea’s
love of faces led her to take up photography as
an adult, a very unladylike profession in 1914.
Her focus on the poor led to her documentation of humanity’s suffering during the Great
Depression. In seeing and recording the people
the world ignored, Dorothea helped others
see with their hearts and created a lasting portrayal of events in U.S. history. Softly outlined
pastel images create spacious and simple vivid
pictures of her family and the many people
she encountered. At book’s end, iconic photographs by Lange show the breadth of her
moving portraits. Back matter, in addition to
an informative time line, gives more information about her life. —Lolly Gepson
Good Trick, Walking Stick!
By Sheri Mabry Bestor. Illus. by Jonny
Mar. 2016. 32p. Sleeping Bear, $16.99 (9781585369430).
595. K–Gr. 3.
Perhaps it’s their talent for camouflage, but
the oft-overlooked walking stick finally gets its
due in this beautifully illustrated picture book.
In a style reminiscent of Steve Jenkins, this
book takes readers through the life of a stick insect, from the moment this slender bug hatches
from its egg to the time it lays eggs itself. Varying fonts emphasize words like drip, wiggle,
and munch, as well as the refrain, “Good trick,
walking stick!” when a new ability is revealed.
Aided by the vibrant collage-style illustrations,
readers see the insect shed its exoskeleton and
defend itself from a bird by detaching its leg
(which it will later regrow) in a trick called autotomy. The intended audience for this book is
adaptable, as the main text’s narrative quality
and tone seem appropriate for kindergartners,
while the scientific asides are more advanced.
However, most kids will find the walking stick’s
ability to change its color, tremble like a twig in
the wind, and squirt smelly liquid at attackers
fascinating at any age. —Julia Smith
How Kate Warne Saved President
By Elizabeth Van Steenwyk. Illus. by
Mar. 2016. 32p. Albert Whitman, $16.99
(9780807541173). 363. K–Gr. 3.
Van Steenwyk gives youngsters a look at the
My House Is Alive! The Weird and
life of Kate Warne, the first female detective in
the U.S. and employee of the Pinkerton De-
tective Agency, focusing on her role in getting
Abraham Lincoln safely to Washington, D.C.,
for his 1861 inauguration. This brief biogra-
phy takes readers through some of Warne’s
early career, highlighting her knack for work-
ing undercover. Bright digital illustrations
show Warne pretending to be a fortune-teller
and party-going socialite while trying to crack
different cases. Her biggest success came four
years into her career, when she played a pivotal
role in thwarting an assassination attempt on
Lincoln’s life, as he traveled to the capital to be
sworn into office. Van Steenwyk appropriately
paints the story with excitement and intrigue,
and she includes how Warne’s success as a de-
tective helped create more opportunities for
women. Some vocabulary will be beyond be-
ginning readers (inaugural, secessionist, etc.),
but Warne’s fascinating exploits and penchant
for disguise will easily hold their attention. An
author’s note offers additional information on
Warne’s life. —Julia Smith
Wonderful Sounds Your House Makes.
By Scot Ritchie. Illus. by the author.
Mar. 2016. 40p. Owlkids, $17.95 (9781771471367). 640.
In this colorful picture book, a boy hears
noises in his house at night. Each time, he
initially imagines the monster that might
be making them; then he learns the reason
for each sound. The boy and his mother are
watching TV in the living room when he
hears a “KNOCK! THUMP! KNOCK!”
and sees the shadowy figure of an enormous
hammer through the glass front door. The
next spread shows the boy leading the tall but
harmless-looking hammer creature over to a
metal vent in the wall, while the text explains
that expanding and contracting metal in the
heating system causes the knocks. The writing
is nontechnical, and the message is clear: there
are rational explanations for those mysterious
sounds. Appealing and sometimes amusing,
the digital illustrations nicely combine fantasy elements with the down-to-earth home
setting. Despite the playfully scary-looking
jacket, this is a reassuring picture book, providing good answers to sometimes-unasked
questions worrying kids: What goes bump
(not to mention thump, gurgle, trickle, buzz,
scratch, creak, and crunch) in the night?
Otters Love to Play.
By Jonathan London. Illus. by Meilo So.
Mar. 2016. 32p. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763669133).
599. PreS–Gr. 2.
Last year’s beaver den is this year’s cozy lair
President Lincoln: From Log Cabin to
for a mother otter and three newborn pups.
When they are finally allowed out, they lose
no time leaping and tumbling, pouncing and
wrestling, because, well, otters love to play.
With their waterproof fur coats, the pups
“gracefully spin and flip and swish like under-
water acrobats.” They learn to hunt, guided by
their supersensitive whiskers. Since otters don’t
hibernate, they romp all through winter. As
for any would-be predators, never mess with
a fierce otter mother if you can help it. Lon-
don, the author of 100-plus picture books and
best known for his ever-growing Froggy series,
combines family adventure and facts to create a
frolicsome, informative tale. A reminder about
the two distinct fonts (one for the otter story,
another for the explanatory tidbits), an index,
and an “About Otters” endnote further en-
hance the learning opportunity. So’s whimsical
art—aptly conceived in flowing watercolors—
adds mischievous charm to all that beckoning
play. — Terry Hong
By Demi. Illus. by the author.
Feb. 2016. 32p. Wisdom Tales, $16.95 (9781937786502).
920. Gr. 1–3.
Demi, an author-illustrator of historical
biographies, now offers an honest and age-appropriate story about one of the nation’s
most beloved figures. Many of the lesser-known aspects of Lincoln’s life, including
the tragedy of his mother’s death, his love of
animals, and his obsession with books, are
chronicled here. Lincoln’s attitudes about
slavery are painted with a broad brush, but
the major events of his political career, such as
his debates with Stephen Douglas and his response to secession, are included. Many of the
illustrations are based on actual photographs
of events, such as Lincoln’s inaugurations, and
the narrative is dotted with his quotes. End
matter includes the text of the Gettysburg Address, a time line of major life events, and an
easy-to-read map of the U.S. at the start of the
Civil War. This book is comprehensive but accessible for young readers, and Demi manages
to make the well-covered topic of one of our
most beloved forefathers seem fresh and new.
The William Hoy Story.
By Nancy Churnin. Illus. by Jez Tuya.
Mar. 2016. 32p. Albert Whitman, $16.99
(9780807591925). 796.357092. PreS–Gr. 3.
Born in 1862, William Hoy loved baseball,
but when he tried out for the team at the Ohio
School for the Deaf, the coach decided he was
too small. Hoy kept practicing, though, and
played professionally from 1888 to 1902. It
wasn’t easy being deaf in a hearing world. In
the batter’s box, he once let three pitches go by
and got ready for the fourth when he realized
that the pitcher and fans were laughing at him.
He hadn’t heard the three strikes called. After
working out a system of hand signs, he talked
the umpire into using them to signal balls and
strikes, safe and out. In an appended informational section, Churnin fills in more details of
Hoy’s life and notes that others are also credited with introducing hand signals to baseball.
Written for a younger audience than Bill Wise’s
Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer
William Hoy (2012), this picture book offers
a smoothly written text and simplified digital
illustrations. A rewarding read-aloud choice for
baseball fans. —Carolyn Phelan