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Books for children

Culture

Issue: "Army of compassion," April 5, 2003
1
The Signers
Dennis Brindell Fradin walker and co., 2002
CONTENT
Short, well-written biographical sketches of the signers, organized by state, with maps, charts, and black-and-white portraits.

GIST
A handful of the signers remain famous, but most have slipped into obscurity, though they were prominent in their day. This book does a good job highlighting their backgrounds, explaining their decision to become signers, and detailing their sacrifices. Except for Presbyterian John Witherspoon, it neglects to explore their spiritual motivations.

2
Magnificent Voyage
Laurie Lawlor holiday house, 2002
CONTENT
Account of Captain James Cook's third voyage based on the journals of John Ledyard, a 25-year-old who accompanied Cook and kept a journal of his travels.

GIST
The same year as the signing of the Declaration, Captain James Cook set off to discover the illusive northwest passage. This book, based on an eyewitness account of the hardships of the travel to Alaska and Siberia, Bora Bora, and Hawaii, reads like a cross between Kidnapped and Moby Dick.

3
George Washington
Carolyn P. Yoder boyd mills press, 2003
CONTENT
Excerpts from the first president's letters, journals, and public documents.

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GIST
Growing out of a large project at the University of Virginia, where Washington's papers are being compiled, this volume for young people takes excerpts that deal with war, marriage, family life, business, the Revolution, and his presidency. Younger readers may find the book difficult, but it is a valuable reference that helps to humanize Washington.

4
One-Dog Canoe
Mary Casanova farrar, strauss, and giroux, 2003
CONTENT
A little girl and her dog go paddling in a canoe, then they are joined by one critter after another.

GIST
With illustrations reminiscent of Bill Pete or Wallace Tripp, Casanova creates a terrific read-aloud with exuberant rhyming verse that carries the repeated refrain, "Can I come too?" The girl and her dog are soon joined by a beaver, a loon, a wolf, a bear, and a moose. A leaping frog upsets the unsteady canoe, with humorous consequences.

5
Little Cliff and the Cold Place
Clifton Taulbert dial books, 2002
CONTENT
A lovely picture book about a Mississippi boy's dream of seeing Alaska.

GIST
When young Clifton's teacher shows the class a map of the United States and points out Mississippi and then talks of a cold place way up north, Clifton wants to go there and thinks his Grandpa can take him. As he listens to his grandson talk about houses made of ice, Poppa understands and figures out a way to go to a cold place much closer to home.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

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