HOW TO DIE OF EMBARRASSMENT EVERY DAY

Hodgman looks back humorously at her 1960s childhood in the Rochester, N.Y., area, recalling incidents that pained her at the time or seem embarrassing in retrospect. There was the way she bragged about her reading before she knew better, the fourth-grade nickname (Hampton Schnoz) bestowed by a classmate she’d asked about her appearance and the total lack of athletic ability that left her at the bottom of the climbing ropes. She includes poems from her “bird sequence,” written in third grade. Not all events are mortifying. Some just reflect what it was like to be young at the time. There is the longed-for Petunia the Climbing Skunk from F.A.O. Schwartz that she didn't get for Christmas, a lovely description of birthday-party entertainments that includes Spiderweb and the Kim Game and the scary school-bus driver who threatened his misbehaving passengers with a rifle. Some anecdotes are very short; others go on for several pages. Occasional photographs of herself and her husband, as well as both their families back to their grandparents, will help readers picture these children from long ago. There is no hint of the larger political turmoil of the time. Rueful, funny and nostalgic, this will ring true to parents and grandparents and may be even more appealing to them than to a child readership—whose impression of the 1960s will be very different. (Memoir. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8705-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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QUEER HEROES

Fashion blogger Sicardi introduces readers to 52 queer heroes from around the world.

The book’s survey of diverse individuals should be applauded. Commendable ranges of ages, ethnicities, genders, professions, and time periods are covered. However, the book’s downfall begins with the sparseness of information offered about each subject. Each entry includes a name, a date range and birthplace, a few scant paragraphs, a stylized portrait, and nothing else. For example, while the joint entry on Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson covers their friendship and work with homeless LGBTQIAP youth in New York City, it makes no mention of Rivera’s historic 1973 speech regarding homophobia and transphobia within the LGBTQIAP community. That was kind of a big deal. Likewise, David Bowie is praised for his music, but mention of his infamous 1983 Rolling Stone article, in which he identified as heterosexual, is absent. (In fairness, the title could refer to heroes of queer people.) The book’s other major deficit is its disorder. The subjects are arranged arbitrarily, without a table of contents or an index. There is no further reading section and no bibliographies for references. A haphazard two-page glossary exists (thankfully in alphabetical order), but that’s it. The book has some merit as a brief introduction to people readers may not have heard of but doesn’t have the follow-through necessary to lead them to further discoveries.

Save your money. (Biography. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-476-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Spy fans and cryptographers will seek this one out.

ANNA STRONG AND THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR CULPER SPY RING

From the Spy on History series

A strong main character and an engaging story make for a revolutionary read.

The career of Anna Strong occupies a fascinating footnote in American history. Was she merely a farmer’s wife, or was she a member of one of the most daring spy rings in our country’s history? The pseudonymous author presents a fictionalized version of Anna’s life in the third volume of the Spy on History series. The examination begins during the throes of the American Revolution. After Anna’s husband is imprisoned and then freed, thanks to Anna’s family connections, and returns to patriot-controlled Connecticut, Anna is pulled into a plot to signal a fellow patriot and pass along information. The plan is simple: Anna uses a black petticoat and a series of handkerchiefs to relay a meeting place. “Alberti” pulls readers into the chaos of Anna’s life (and the war) through an omniscient narrator that documents Anna’s movements over the next year. Astute readers will also realize the dangers women faced from soldiers (and fellow countrymen) during this period. Terry’s loose, two-color illustrations depict an all-white cast and provide an additional sense of movement to the text. The trade edition includes a "Spycraft Kit" in the form of an enclosed envelope with inserts for solving a final coded mystery; the library edition publishes without these inclusions for ease of circulation. Backmatter explains the history of the Culper Spy Ring and its role in exposing Gen. Benedict Arnold.

Spy fans and cryptographers will seek this one out. (historical note, answers, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0216-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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