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From the LieOgraphies series

Pure silliness: shelve far, far away from the biographies.

All her life, Amelia has only one thing on her mind: flight.

At her third birthday party, all her presents are plane-themed. Her fifth grade class laughs at her eagerness to fly. She’s excited to attend a stunt-pilot show but misses it thanks to an out-of-date poster. Through it all, she clings to her pronouncement that “Someday I will fly.” Even when she finally procures a plane, she’s told that girls can’t fly (when proven wrong, the naysaying adult man apologizes). She perseveres and eventually makes big plans for her 50th flight. Katz lards the baldly fictional narrative with absurdities such as metafictive tricks, anachronisms, and gags of convenience. Blessedly, the book closes with “some factual facts” about Earhart’s life, most crucially noting that she apparently had “no particular interest in aviation during her childhood.” Thus, the book is self-admittedly what its title promises. The grayscale cartoons give no indication that any character is any race other than White. Rather, as Christopher Eliopoulos does in his illustrations of Brad Meltzer’s Ordinary People Change the World series, Hill depicts his protagonist the same way no matter her age, which becomes problematic when she’s 17 and still looks like a 3-year-old among tall, adult-proportioned figures. This read is best for those whose senses of irony and humor are developed enough to enjoy the foolishness and then dismiss it. Companion titles about Babe Ruth and Thomas Edison publish simultaneously.

Pure silliness: shelve far, far away from the biographies. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-939100-48-1

Page Count: 100

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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At its best when the emphasis is on the skill and artistry of Mime’s most accomplished practitioner—alas, too much of the...

The legendary mime is introduced to a new generation, though not entirely successfully.

As a child, Marceau loved to silently entertain his friends, like his idol, Charlie Chaplin. During the Nazi occupation of France, Marcel and his brother took on new identities in the French Underground, where they forged documents for Jewish children and helped many to escape to Switzerland. Spielman assumes that her young audience will understand references to deportation and concentration camps; unfortunately for those that don't, her matter-of-fact tone speaks more of adventure than deadly peril. Her tone subtly changes when she lovingly describes Marceau’s training and development as a mime and his stage persona of Bip the clown, admiring his skills in the “art of silence” that won him international renown. But here too, comparisons to the Little Tramp and Pierrot may be outside readers’ frame of reference. Though the illustrations carefully complement the textual content with period details, Gauthier’s cartoon faces are all nearly identical, with only the screen image of Chaplin and Marceau’s Bip having distinctive features. A double-page spread at the conclusion provides photographs of Bip in action and is the only clear indication of Marceau’s stagecraft.

At its best when the emphasis is on the skill and artistry of Mime’s most accomplished practitioner—alas, too much of the book looks elsewhere. (Picture book/biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7613-3961-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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It’s an often-told story, but the author is still in a position to give it a unique perspective.

The author of Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America (2004) tells her father’s tale again, for younger readers.

Though using a less personal tone this time and referring to herself in the third person, Robinson still devotes as much attention to his family life, youth and post-baseball career as she does to his achievements on the field. Writing in short sentences and simple language, she presents a clear picture of the era’s racial attitudes and the pressures he faced both in the military service and in baseball—offering plenty of clear reasons to regard him not just as a champion athlete, but as a hero too. An early remark about how he ran with “a bunch of black, Japanese, and Mexican boys” while growing up in Pasadena is insensitively phrased, and a sweeping claim that by 1949 “[t]he racial tension was broken” in baseball is simplistic. Nevertheless, by and large her account covers the bases adequately. The many photos include an admixture of family snapshots, and a closing Q-and-A allows the author to announce the imminent release of a new feature film about Robinson.

It’s an often-told story, but the author is still in a position to give it a unique perspective. (Biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-54006-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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