An ebullient, wonderfully told introduction to music that had an indelible influence on a generation and its times.

Adopting the informal, laid-back voice of a narrator she calls “the Groove,” Pinkney offers readers a lively, engaging chronicle of the Motown sound.

Central to the story is the visionary impresario and Motown founder Berry Gordy. Although successful as a songwriter, the Detroit native was unhappy with the pittance earned for his labor while record company owners made a fortune. With $800 borrowed from his family, Gordy started Motown Records at a two-story bungalow he dubbed Hitsville USA. The ambitious Gordy drew on his experience working for Ford Motor Co. to turn Motown into an assembly line cranking out hit after hit. Gordy’s “Motown family” soon included such stellar acts as Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Martha and the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson Five, and more. Pinkney interweaves into the narrative accounts of the cultural and political upheavals occurring during the years of Motown’s greatest success, such as the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and the deadly riots in Detroit. She explains how Gordy’s success in an industry dominated by white men at the time was all the more remarkable. Given this, it’s unfortunate she doesn’t take the opportunity to discuss how influential the Motown sound was on white musicians, particularly those of the British Invasion.

An ebullient, wonderfully told introduction to music that had an indelible influence on a generation and its times. (photos, timeline, discography, source notes, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59643-973-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015


From the ... Through the Lens series

As he did in Lincoln Through the Lens (2008), Sandler offers a fascinating photo-essay examining how images shaped public perceptions of John F. Kennedy. In Kennedy’s case, it was television and advances in color photography and photojournalism that were influential. One of America’s most photogenic presidents, Kennedy was an astute user of the media. Following the format of the other Through the Lens books, each spread is a self-contained “chapter,” with one page of text and a full-page photograph, many in color. The book begins with an overview of Kennedy’s life and the role that photography and television played in his career. Subsequent spreads are chronological, covering Kennedy’s life from childhood through assassination. The author notes the significance of the Kennedy presidency’s being the first to be photographed mostly in color, “perfect for capturing the glamour that came to be associated with the Kennedy years.” Kennedy’s life and administration were documented with a groundbreaking intimacy the public had never known before, making this an accessible, insightful perspective on one of America’s most famous presidents. (further reading and websites, source notes, index) (Biography. 10-14)


Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8027-2160-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: Dec. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010



Tricked out with a ribbon, foil highlights on the jacket and portrait galleries at each chapter’s head by Ireland’s leading illustrator, this handsome package offers British readers an orgy of self-congratulatory historical highlights. These are borne along on a tide of invented epithets (“ ‘Foreigners!’ spat Boudicca”), fictive sound bites (“Down with the Committee of Safety!”) and homiletic observations (“By beating Napoléon the British showed how strong they were when they worked together”). Aside from occasional stumbles like the slave trade or the Irish potato famine, Britain’s history—from the Magna Carta to the dissolution of the biggest empire “there had ever been”—unfolds as a steady trot toward ever-broader religious toleration, voting rights and personal freedom. American audiences will likely be surprised to see Mary Queen of Scots characterized as “one of the most famous of all monarchs,” and the Revolutionary War get scarcely more play than the Charge of the Light Brigade. It makes a grand tale, though, even when strict accuracy sometimes takes a back seat to truthiness. Includes timelines, lists of monarchs and an index but no source lists. (Nonfiction. 11-13)


Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5122-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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