A thoughtful, well-researched homage to an almost forgotten hero.

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JACOB RIIS'S CAMERA

BRINGING LIGHT TO TENEMENT CHILDREN

Words alone could not provoke change in the terrible plight of tenement dwellers in late-19th-century New York City.

In 1870, Danish-born Jacob Riis immigrated to the United States, where, after years of struggle, he eventually became a newspaperman. In his own life and in his work, he witnessed the horrendous living conditions of New York City’s poorest immigrants. It became the impetus for his lifelong crusade. One of the worst areas was Mulberry Bend, with filthy, overcrowded, airless tenements. He wrote many articles describing what he saw, but nothing changed. Then he took photographs and gave lectures accompanied by life-size reproductions of those photos to any group that would listen. His 1890 book, How the Other Half Lives, inspired others, including Theodore Roosevelt, to finally begin to address the issues. Among other improvements, the worst slums of Mulberry Bend were cleared to create a park, giving people a place to breathe and play. But where did the inhabitants go? O’Neill clearly admires Riis and presents his biography in clear, direct language that conveys the facts of his life along with the essence of his nature. Kelley’s ink-and-pastel illustrations in muted tones capture the gray dreariness of the scenes as well as dark shadows of interpretations of the photos. Backmatter includes detailed information of every aspect of Riis’ life and work, including several of Riis’ photos and quotes.

A thoughtful, well-researched homage to an almost forgotten hero. (author’s note, glossary, timeline, sources) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62979-866-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable...

THE BRAVE CYCLIST

THE TRUE STORY OF A HOLOCAUST HERO

An extraordinary athlete was also an extraordinary hero.

Gino Bartali grew up in Florence, Italy, loving everything about riding bicycles. After years of studying them and years of endurance training, he won the 1938 Tour de France. His triumph was muted by the outbreak of World War II, during which Mussolini followed Hitler in the establishment of anti-Jewish laws. In the middle years of the conflict, Bartali was enlisted by a cardinal of the Italian church to help Jews by becoming a document courier. His skill as a cyclist and his fame helped him elude capture until 1944. When the war ended, he kept his clandestine efforts private and went on to win another Tour de France in 1948. The author’s afterword explains why his work was unknown. Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum, honored him as a Righteous Among the Nations in 2013. Bartali’s is a life well worth knowing and well worthy of esteem. Fedele’s illustrations in mostly dark hues will appeal to sports fans with their action-oriented scenes. Young readers of World War II stories will gain an understanding from the somber wartime pages.

What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable springboard. (photograph, select bibliography, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68446-063-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Gives readers a fresh and thrilling sense of what it took to make history.

A PLACE TO LAND

The backstory of a renowned address is revealed.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” is one of the most famous ever given, yet with this book, Wittenstein and Pinkney give young readers new insights into both the speech and the man behind it. When Dr. King arrived in Washington, D.C., for the 1963 March on Washington, the speech was not yet finished. He turned to his fellow civil rights leaders for advice, and after hours of listening, he returned to his room to compose, fine-tuning even the day of the march. He went on to deliver a powerful speech, but as he closed, he moved away from the prepared text and into a stirring sermon. “Martin was done circling. / The lecture was over. / He was going to church, / his place to land, / and taking a congregation / of two hundred and fifty thousand / along for the ride.” Although much hard work still lay ahead, the impact of Dr. King’s dramatic words and delivery elevated that important moment in the struggle for equal rights. Wittenstein’s free-verse narrative perfectly captures the tension leading up to the speech as each adviser urged his own ideas while remaining a supportive community. Pinkney’s trademark illustrations dramatize this and the speech, adding power and further illuminating the sense of historical importance.

Gives readers a fresh and thrilling sense of what it took to make history. (author’s note, lists of advisers and speakers, bibliography, source notes) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4331-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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