The story’s familiarity takes away only some of its power and its urgency.

BEHIND THE BOOKCASE

MIEP GIES, ANNE FRANK, AND THE HIDING PLACE

Sometimes history is chronicled in years. Sometimes it’s chronicled in minutes.

Almost anyone who has been to Hebrew school and many who haven’t know the basic facts of Anne Frank’s life: Her family hid for two years in a tiny annex. The Nazis found them, in spite of all their secrecy. Anne left a diary that ensured generations of readers would never forget the lives lost in the Holocaust. This new biography mentions each of those facts, but it focuses on smaller moments: Anne’s learning to walk, and then sashay, in high heels. Anne’s decorating the walls, comically, with pictures of chimpanzees. The book focuses in particular on Miep Gies, the gentile woman who helped them and then found the diary, and some of the details about her childhood are startling. An Austrian refugee, she was taken in during World War I by Dutch strangers who then raised her. (Gies and all of the historical figures depicted have pale skin.) The focus on details is both the book’s value and its chief flaw. It describes the moment-to-moment experience of life in an attic. Some of those moments are deeply moving, but some are mundane, a catalog of pots and pans and dirty clothes. Readers may find the book a bit less heartbreaking than others on Frank because the larger history is so familiar. The main facts have been told many times in many books. Toro’s illustrations, however, make every scene haunting, with dark shadows on the Franks’ faces, as though they’re covered with ash. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 83% of actual size.)

The story’s familiarity takes away only some of its power and its urgency. (historical notes, bibliography, suggested reading) (Picture book/biography. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-5725-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.

JUST LIKE JESSE OWENS

Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Several unexpected connections, though Eurocentric overall and lacking in racial diversity.

HEAD TO HEAD

18 LINKED PORTRAITS OF PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD

Renowned achievers go nose-to-nose on fold-out pages.

Mixing contemporary celebrities with historical figures, Corbineau pairs off his gallery of full-page portraits by theme, the images all reworked from photos or prints into cut-paper collages with highly saturated hues. Gandhi and Rosa Parks exemplify nonviolent protest; Mother Teresa and Angelina Jolie are (mostly) commended for their work with impoverished people; and a “common point” between Gutenberg and Mark Zuckerberg is that both revolutionized the ways we communicate. The portraits, on opposite ends of gatefolds, open to reveal short biographies flanking explanatory essays. Women and people of color are distinctly underrepresented. There are a few surprises, such as guillotined French playwright Olympe de Gouges, linked for her feminism with actress Emma Watson; extreme free-fall jumper Felix Baumgartner, paired with fellow aerialist record-seeker Amelia Earhart; and Nelson Mandela’s co–freedom fighter Jean Moulin, a leader of the French Resistance. In another departure from the usual run of inspirational panegyrics, Cornabas slips in the occasional provocative claim, noting that many countries considered Mandela’s African National Congress a terrorist organization and that Mother Teresa, believing that suffering was “a gift from God,” rarely gave her patients painkillers. Although perhaps only some of these subjects “changed the world” in any significant sense, all come off as admirable—for their ambition, strength of character, and drive.

Several unexpected connections, though Eurocentric overall and lacking in racial diversity. (map, timeline) (Collective biography. 8-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7643-6226-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Schiffer

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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