An excellent work of children’s nonfiction that just may inspire the next Chuck Yeager.

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Chuck Yeager Goes Supersonic

AN ACTION-PACKED, TRUE FLYING ADVENTURE

This straightforward biography engages young readers’ imaginations, respects their intelligence and takes them along on an exciting, real-life adventure.

From Chuck Yeager’s childhood in the Depression, through his experience in World War II, flight school and finally his chance to pilot the first supersonic flight, this debut children’s book brings his biography to life and includes a science lesson for eager young minds, as well. Biermann expertly weaves vignettes from Yeager’s life—like the time he plowed a test plane through a chicken coop—into the narrative, creating a tale with a cinematic, easy-to-follow rhythm. These anecdotes illustrate Yeager’s character in a natural, show-don’t-tell fashion. Biermann’s explanation of the science behind sound waves, the sound barrier and supersonic flight is so clear and memorable, it’s sure to stick with readers well into their adulthood. (Some adults who read this to kids will be relieved to have this burden lifted from them, so they don’t have to sputter out shaky explanations themselves.) While this story may inspire a lifelong interest in science, it’s unlikely to inspire a lifelong love of poetic language. From the very first paragraph—“Chuck Yeager loved to fly airplanes. He loved to fly high. He loved to fly fast.”—the language is a bit unadorned. But it is crystal clear, precise and geared with almost mathematical accuracy to a young elementary reading level. Science- and adventure-minded readers who are just here for the sonic boom won’t care that the book reads more like a technical manual than poetry. The illustrations are of a piece with the language: precise down to the buttons and badges on Yeager’s flight suit but flat and stylized, reminiscent of old-school film strips. And, like the language, while the illustrations are not inspiring or beautiful, they are perfectly suited to the book’s likely audience, who will probably be scrutinizing the cockpit controls.

An excellent work of children’s nonfiction that just may inspire the next Chuck Yeager.

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1480276321

Page Count: 48

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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An outstanding biography that reveals an overlooked steeliness at Jefferson’s core that accounts for so much of his...

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THOMAS JEFFERSON

THE ART OF POWER

A Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer lauds the political genius of Thomas Jefferson.

As a citizen, Jefferson became a central leader in America’s rebellion against the world’s greatest empire. As a diplomat, he mentored a similar revolution in France. As president, he doubled the size of the United States without firing a shot and established a political dynasty that stretched over four decades. These achievements and many more, Time contributing editor Meacham (American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, 2008, etc.) smoothly argues, would have been impossible if the endlessly complicated Jefferson were merely the dreamy, impractical philosopher king his detractors imagined. His portrait of our most enigmatic president intentionally highlights career episodes that illustrate Jefferson’s penchant for balancing competing interests and for compromises that, nevertheless, advanced his own political goals. Born to the Virginia aristocracy, Jefferson effectively disguised his drive for control, charming foes and enlisting allies to conduct battles on his behalf. As he accumulated power, he exercised it ruthlessly, often deviating from the ideals of limited government he had previously—and eternally—articulated. Stronger than any commitment to abstract principle, the impulse for pragmatic political maneuvering, Meacham insists, always predominated. With an insatiable hunger for information, a talent for improvisation and a desire for greatness, Jefferson coolly calculated political realities—see his midlife abandonment of any effort to abolish slavery—and, more frequently than not, emerged from struggles with opponents routed and his own authority enhanced. Through his thinking and writing, we’ve long appreciated Jefferson’s lifelong devotion to “the survival and success of democratic republicanism in America,” but Meacham’s treatment reminds us of the flesh-and-blood politician, the man of action who masterfully bent the real world in the direction of his ideals.

An outstanding biography that reveals an overlooked steeliness at Jefferson’s core that accounts for so much of his political success.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6766-4

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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A moving, deeply felt tribute to a courageous individual who sacrificed his life to save others.

THE RED BANDANNA

The inspirational story of a modern-day hero who escorted dozens to safety during the 9/11 attacks.

Longtime ESPN correspondent Rinaldi reconstructs the life of Welles Crowther, a fearless man responsible for saving the lives of dozens on 9/11. Already determined and passionate as a youth, Crowther grew up in a family of faith in Nyack, New York, raised by loving parents whose first date ironically occurred on Sept. 11, 1968. A competitive boy, he excelled in sports and joined his father in volunteering at the local firehouse. A lasting boyhood keepsake was a red bandanna given to him by his father; this “unexpected gift” became a prized possession and a “superhero” lucky charm to Crowther. He attended Boston College, excelled at lacrosse, and, after graduating, realized his dream of living in New York City and began working as an equities trader on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower, though he had future aspirations to formally become a firefighter. In the frantic minutes following the first plane’s impact on 9/11, Crowther took to the stairwells searching for survivors and encountered a crowd of injured people whom he managed to rescue, even carrying one on his back as he descended a stairway. Rinaldi incorporates many survivor accounts of those who later told the media of a mysterious man with his face covered with a red handkerchief who saved them only to ascend back into the building looking for others. Crowther perished as the tower collapsed after aiding the fire department as a civilian usher, yet his heroic legacy, lauded by President Barack Obama, is eternally memorialized at the 9/11 tribute site. With dramatic, only occasionally maudlin prose, Rinaldi captures the compelling urgency of the indelible event and fondly tips his hat to Crowther, an exemplary embodiment of human compassion and selflessness.

A moving, deeply felt tribute to a courageous individual who sacrificed his life to save others.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59420-677-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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