A well-researched, engagingly written, though incomplete portrait of a fascinating, complex figure.

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THE BOY WHO BECAME BUFFALO BILL

GROWING UP BILLY CODY IN BLEEDING KANSAS

Warren explores how the man who became the most famous entertainer of his time and a legend of the "Wild West" grew up amid a violent regional conflict that would soon tear apart the nation.

William Cody was 8 when his family moved to the Kansas Territory in 1854, soon to be plunged into a bloody conflict between anti-slavery and pro-slavery factions. When his father died from complications of a savage attack after delivering an abolitionist speech, 11-year-old Billy supported his family herding cattle, working on wagon trains, and riding for the Pony Express. Seeking revenge, he joined the Jayhawkers, guerrilla irregulars fighting pro-slavery militant groups. He enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War and later worked as a scout during the Indian Wars. Providing contextualizing information along the way, Warren chronicles all these colorful adventures in lively prose but, perhaps due to her focus on his early years, gives short shrift to Cody's contradictions. He earned his nickname for single-handedly slaughtering thousands of bison yet feared their extinction and spoke out against hide-hunting; that selfsame slaughter was part of a U.S. government campaign to destroy Plains Indian culture, yet Cody hated how the Indians were treated—both of these are largely unexplored. The volume is liberally illustrated with archival material, and extensive backmatter supplements the narrative.

A well-researched, engagingly written, though incomplete portrait of a fascinating, complex figure. (notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4778-2718-5

Page Count: 246

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of.

SCARED STIFF

50 PHOBIAS THAT FREAK US OUT

Part browsing item, part therapy for the afflicted, this catalog of irrational terrors offers a little help along with a lot of pop psychology and culture.

The book opens with a clinical psychologist’s foreword and closes with a chapter of personal and professional coping strategies. In between, Latta’s alphabetically arranged encyclopedia introduces a range of panic-inducers from buttons (“koumpounophobia”) and being out of cellphone contact (“nomophobia”) to more widespread fears of heights (“acrophobia”), clowns (“coulroiphobia”) and various animals. There’s also the generalized “social anxiety disorder”—which has no medical name but is “just its own bad self.” As most phobias have obscure origins (generally in childhood), similar physical symptoms and the same approaches to treatment, the descriptive passages tend toward monotony. To counter that, the author chucks in references aplenty to celebrity sufferers, annotated lists of relevant books and (mostly horror) movies, side notes on “joke phobias” and other topics. At each entry’s end, she contributes a box of “Scare Quotes” such as a passage from Coraline for the aforementioned fear of buttons.

Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of. (end notes, resource list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-936976-49-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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A loud, cynical cash grab—far from amazing.

THE AMAZING BOOK IS NOT ON FIRE

THE WORLD OF DAN AND PHIL

A couple more YouTube stars write a book.

Howell, who goes by "danisnotonfire," and "AmazingPhil" Lester are the latest YouTube stars hoping to cross over to the world of books. Instead of crafting a memoir or adapting their videos into a fictional series, the duo have filled these 225 pages with bold graphics, scatological humor, and quirky how tos that may entice their fan base but will leave everyone else out in the cold. It contains a wide variety of nonsense, ranging from Phil's chat logs to information on breeding hamsters. There's an emoji-only interview and some Dan/Phil fanfiction (by Howell rather than a fan) and even a full double-page spread of the pair's unsuccessful selfies. All this miscellany is shoveled in without much rhyme or reason following introductory pages that clearly introduce the pair as children, leaving readers who aren't in on the joke completely out of the loop. The authors make no attempt to bring in those on the outside, but in all honesty, why should they? The only people buying this book are kids who already love everything Dan and Phil do or clueless relatives in desperate search of a gift for the awkward teens in their lives. The book's biggest fault is its apparent laziness. It feels like something slapped together over a weekend, with no heart or soul.   

A loud, cynical cash grab—far from amazing. (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-93984-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2015

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