In the end, it feels more like experimental performance art than biography.

READ REVIEW

I SEE THE PROMISED LAND

A new edition of a 2010 graphic telling of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. via Patua scroll paintings.

In this rather disjointed patchwork of pictures and prose—the art by Bengali artist Chitrakar, and the text by poet Flowers—the main points of King’s life are depicted in the traditional Indian art. Flowers doesn’t shy away from any aspects of King's life, describing his accomplishments and foibles straightforwardly (“Boy got a weakness for the flesh”). Chitrakar's characters are often portrayed with one-color apparel (that often look like Nehru jackets) against monochromatic backdrops, negating any feel for the 1960s Southern setting. The accompanying text varies in size and typeface, wandering almost drunkenly over pages in a free-form style that makes for a complicated path. Consistent with Flowers’ blues-based approach, the actual prose doesn't adhere to grammatical conventions, easily mixing in contemporary slang like "oldschool" and "mack." King's actual words march across black double-page spreads in alarmingly huge white font (at times used for the author’s words as well). These components all combine for an effect that is distracting and disjointed. With many choices of works about King, there are certainly better selections to be made.

In the end, it feels more like experimental performance art than biography. (editorial notes) (Graphic biography. 15 & up)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55498-328-5

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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A grim but worthy read.

A CAVE IN THE CLOUDS

A YOUNG WOMAN'S ESCAPE FROM ISIS

This book chronicles the traumatic story of Ahmed, a young Ezidi woman who was abducted by Islamic State group forces from her village in northern Iraq and subsequently forced into sexual slavery.

Ahmed’s ordeal began at age 18, when IS’ army rolled into her native village of Kocho, thwarting her family’s attempt to seek refuge in the surrounding mountains. The village population was promptly split between the men, driven to an unknown fate, and the women and children, rounded up in a nearby school before being forced aboard trucks heading to neighboring Syria. Months of captivity in the most extreme conditions ensued before she was finally sold—alongside Navine, a friend met in captivity, and her nephew, Eivan, who she pretended was her son—to al-Amriki, an American citizen–turned-emir, a high-ranking position in IS’ military hierarchy. In a succession of fortunate circumstances and bold decisions, the trio managed to escape, first from the compound where they were held captive, and then from Syria toward a Turkish refugee camp. Ahmed, reunited with what was left of her family, attempted to heal her wounds and rebuild her life. The first-person narration provides important context for those unfamiliar with the Ezidi. Readers will find it hard not to empathize and be moved by Ahmed’s heart-wrenching ordeal and will likely forgive some of the book’s naïve essentialisms, plot holes, and unfortunate Eurocentrisms.

A grim but worthy read. (authors’ note, map, epilogue) (Nonfiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: April 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77321-235-7

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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PICK AND SHOVEL POET

THE JOURNEYS OF PASCAL D’ANGELO

In 1910, Pascal D’Angelo and his father left the harsh Abruzzi region of Italy to escape its impossible poverty and journey to the United States; Pascal was 16 years old. Murphy, a graceful narrator of history, presents the life of the peasant as he journeyed through life in the new country. He never became wealthy or even comfortable, but did leave an impression with his poetry—and this from a man who became literate in English as an adult, largely self-taught (and librarians will be delighted to know that they helped him). D’Angelo also wrote an autobiography, Son of Italy, relating to life as an immigrant and the hard—largely pick-and-shovel—work he did to earn a scant living. Such a telling should resonate when readers think about why people come to a new country where they do not speak the language, do not know the customs, and too often are alone, even (or especially) today. The protagonist does not come through as a sharp personality; he is somewhat shadowy against the times and places of his life. He stands out as a symbol rather than a full person. But his accomplishments are certainly large. Archival photos are interesting but sometimes captions are non-indicative; what do they mean? When and where were they taken? There are two photos of D’Angelo. As usual, Murphy provides details that help set the story. A biography of a common man that is also the history of a civilization and its times. (index and bibliography) (Biography. 9-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2000

ISBN: 0-395-77610-4

Page Count: 162

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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