October 20, 2017

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Forget the electoral process; students may need a refresher on what Washington, DC, even looks like! From Jakobsen’s colorful and detailed drawings of famous monuments and sights to Panchyk’s rich and complex portrait of the city’s history, these titles will have readers ready to set off on the right foot toward greater political knowledge. Plus, don’t miss DC’s star attraction, the White House, in Robbin’s Miss Paul and the President, a bright introduction to Alice Paul, who staged demonstrations in our nation’s capital for women’s rights to vote.

Jakobsen, Kathy. My Washington, DC. illus. by Kathy Jakobsen. 40p. maps. websites. Little, Brown. Sept. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316126120. NF-SP-Jakoben-My Washington DC

Gr 1-3 –Jakobsen takes readers on a whimsical, whirlwind tour of our nation’s capital in this nonfiction picture book. Beginning at Union Station, characters Becky and her friend Martin make their way around many of the sights of Washington, DC. Most locations are treated to highly detailed spreads, while some, such as the Supreme Court, merit a single page, and others, like the White House, receive multiple spreads. The Washington Monument gets a fold-out treatment as befits its height. Each illustration is accompanied by a brief paragraph of description, which necessarily limits the amount of information that Jakobsen is able to impart; what she includes is as much fun trivia as it is vital facts. A few commonly repeated inaccuracies appear here, such as the idea that “Lincoln freed the slaves,” but these are more oversimplifications than errors. Martin Luther King Jr.’s monument is the only edifice to commemorate a non-president that is featured, but Jakobsen fails to mention King’s African American heritage, which is an omission that some will find odd. As readers pore over these illustrations of monuments, seats of government, and museums, they are also encouraged to search for eagles, stars, and a cat hidden in each picture, adding to the book’s interactive nature. An illustrated map highlighting each site visited as well as other prominent locations graces the endpapers, allowing readers to revisit their journey. VERDICT This merry work is a good choice for young readers who are curious about our capital as well as educators who want to introduce Washington, DC, before a trip or lesson.–Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Panchyk, Richard. Washington, DC, History for Kids: The Making of a Capital City, with 21 Activities. 144p. (For Kids). chron. further reading. index. photos. websites. Chicago Review. Jul. 2016. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781613730065. NF-SP-Panchyk-DC-History for Kids

Gr 5-8 –Panchyk has produced a multifaceted history of Washington, DC. The book is a chronological account of the capital’s history, beginning with the first European settlements in the 17th century and ending with the August 2011 earthquake felt within the city. Chapters are broken into small sections of text, which range in length from a few to several paragraphs. The narrative discusses important events, such as the British attack on the city in 1814 and the Lincoln assassination. It also includes lesser-known events, such as the attempt to free slaves on the ship Pearl and Japan’s gift of cherry trees to the city. Students will become acquainted with famous landmarks: the Smithsonian, the Capital, the United States Botanic Garden, and many other prominent sites. Primary documentation consists of drawings, photographs, and scans of letters and newspapers, including a letter by George Washington, an engraving of the city plan by Andrew Ellicott, and a photograph of Union Station in 1907. Some images, like a photograph of the Lincoln Memorial, occupy the whole page, while other images are half a page or smaller. This book is loaded with activities, some of which require adult supervision. These activities include taking part in backyard archaeology, and photographing current landmarks and comparing those images to older pictures. Some activities can be done in the home, such as drawing political cartoons or designing a city flag. These projects may be adapted for classroom use. A handy time line of the city can be found before the introduction. VERDICT An informational and activity-filled book that will be very useful for late-elementary and middle school history projects.–Jeffrey Meyer, Mt. Pleasant Public Library, IA

Robbins, Dean. Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right To Vote. illus. by Nancy Zhang. 40p. bibliog. ebook available. Knopf. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781101937204; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9781101937211. Miss Paul_cover comp.indd

K-Gr 3 –This picture book biography introduces young readers to Alice Paul, the suffragist and women’s rights activist. Readers will learn of Paul’s fierce efforts to win the right to vote for women, including putting together a parade in Washington, DC, that upstaged the incoming president, Woodrow Wilson; organizing protesters outside the White House; and directly confronting President Wilson on the matter of women’s suffrage. The author connects these efforts (“making mischief”) to Paul’s wild youth, a time when she sneaked candy, chased chickens, and threw mud balls. Watercolor and color pencil illustrations support this spirited view with lively movement and color as she is shown leading a parade of 8,000 women, sitting in President Wilson’s office and looking him right in the eye, protesting outside the White House gate, and even being hauled off to jail by the police for refusing to leave the grounds. All of these efforts pay off when Wilson finally decides to support women’s right to vote. A final illustration shows the triumphant Paul on her way to vote in the 1920 election. VERDICT This is an engaging introduction to an important and often neglected historical figure. Older readers can find additional information in Ann Bausum’s With Courage and Cloth.–Myra Zarnowski, City University of New York

These reviews were published in School Library Journal’s June 2016 issue. 

Della Farrell About Della Farrell

Della Farrell is an Assistant Editor at School Library Journal and Editor of Series Made Simple

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