Tag Archives: history

“Smelly” Kelly and His Super Senses

by Beth Anderson
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars 

Illustrations by Jenn Harney really make this book, especially providing clarity in a couple of spots where the text is a bit confusing. They evoke the 1930’s and 1940’s, when James “Smelly” Kelly was at his prime in working for the New York City subway system, walking miles of track and fixing leaks (an average of 8 a day!). He used his super sense of smell to do the job, but also learned that listening well and using inventions he made were also crucial. Another winning picture book biography in a banner year!

Illustrations like: Day-Glo Brothers

Double Review: U.S. Myth-Busting Books

Plymouth Rocks! The Stone-Cold Truth
by Jane Yolen

Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

I was surprised to see a Jane Yolen book get a lukewarm Kirkus review, even moreso when I read the title and synopsis. Americans are in need of some serious history myth-busting, particularly around Thanksgiving. So I requested a copy to see for myself. It turns out that I do not happen to agree with that particular reviewer and I’m glad I bought a copy for my library. Yolen’s anthropomorphized rock, and the historian (appearing to be a woman of color) correcting the rock, delve into some of the myths around its history as an American symbol and readers learn new facts (I even learned some new-to-me myths, that were then busted). The pair don’t get too far into the myth of the first Thanksgiving, disappointingly – maybe Yolen thought the full gory truth a bit much for a book aimed this young (2nd-3rd grade).

The Statue of Liberty Wasn’t Made to Welcome Immigrants
by Therese Shea

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Short text and wide spacing make this accessible to readers who have recently gotten the hang of it – probably best for second grade and up. Shares a myth about each of 11 different US landmarks and then shares the truth. Some myths I wasn’t even aware of! Included in information about Mount Rushmore is the fact that in 1980, the land was deemed stolen from the Sioux nation.