THE LAST SAFE HOUSE

A STORY OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

In short chapters, the story of fictional escaped slave Eliza Jackson and her family unfold, paralleling the effect on and courage of Canadian Johanna Reid and her family, who hide Eliza and her brother Ben until they can safely reunite with their mother. The narrative introduces the points of view of Johanna, who must cope with the changes the “midnight visitors” bring, and Eliza and Ben, who recount their adventures traveling north to Canada from Virginia. Smoothly sandwiched in are maps, drawings, and factual passages that give background details of the time, such as life on Southern plantations, profiles of important figures in the history of abolitionism, and activities, which nicely break up the information. The clean, approachable design presents all of these elements in a clear, organized manner and the black-and-white illustrations complement both fictional and historical elements. While no more dramatic or emotional than entries in the American Girls series, the book authentically examines the people and logistics of the Underground Railroad in an accessible and unusual way. (glossary, bibliography) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1998

ISBN: 1-55074-507-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1998

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The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...

TWO MEN AND A CAR

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AL CAPONE, AND A CADILLAC V-8

A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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BYLINES

A PHOTOBIOGRAPHY OF NELLIE BLY

Nellie Bly’s life was full of derring-do and adventure. At one point, thousands of people followed her every move and wondered what she would try next. But mention this name to young folk today, and a puzzled glance is the likely response. In composed yet passionate prose—not unlike Bly’s own—Macy delves into the many escapades of this devoted journalist. From being voluntarily committed to an insane asylum for a story to becoming the only woman allowed to report from the front lines of World War I, Bly never shied away from a challenging assignment. It was her trip around the world in fewer than 80 days, besting the main character from Jules Verne’s popular novel, that made her a household name. Complete with full-spread photos, quotes, maps and faded-newsprint backdrops, this attractive package will appeal to young journalists and thrill-seekers alike. (afterword, author’s note, timeline, resources, source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4263-0513-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2009

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