A barely serviceable introduction with far more child appeal than substance.

READ REVIEW

I AM ROSA PARKS

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Following introductions to Amelia Earhart and Abraham Lincoln, this third title in the set introduces an iconic figure in the civil rights movement.

In a straightforward fictionalized narration, Parks tells her story. She gives examples of segregation and bullying in her early life, describes the incident that led to her work for the NAACP and the resistance that led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-56. “The only tired I was, was tired of giving in,” she remarks. The book makes a point of contrasting her small size with her great determination. In the cartoon illustrations, Parks has the round head of Charlie Brown; sometimes she even shares his rueful expression. As with other heroes in the series, she remains child-sized throughout the book, which has the effect of infantilizing her. In one particularly unfortunate illustration, she and an equally child-sized Martin Luther King have an imagined conversation, depicted in speech bubbles, in front of an integrated classroom full of students prayerfully reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The small, square format seems designed for young hands, and the approach may be most appropriate for preschoolers. The thriller-writer–turned–author-for-children has provided no documentation, sourcing or suggestions for further exploration of this history, but two pages of photographs (not seen) follow the account.

A barely serviceable introduction with far more child appeal than substance. (Picture book/biography. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-40853

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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A memorable life—a forgettable presentation.

I AM JACKIE ROBINSON

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Baseball’s No. 42 strikes out.

Even as a babe in his mother’s arms, Robinson is depicted wearing his Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cap in this latest entry in the Ordinary People Change the World series. He narrates his childhood alongside cartoon panels that show him as an expert runner and thrower. Racism and poverty are also part of his growing up, along with lessons in sharing and courage. Incredibly, the Negro Leagues are not mentioned beyond a passing reference to “a black team” with a picture of the Kansas City Monarchs next to their team bus (still looking like a child in the illustration, Robinson whines, “Gross! Is this food or goo?”). In 1946, Branch Rickey signs him to play for the Dodgers’ farm team, and the rest, as they say, is history. Robinson concludes his story with an exhortation to readers to be brave, strong and use their “power to do what’s right. / Use that power for a cause that you believe in.” Meltzer writes his inspirational biography as a first-person narrative, which risks being construed and used as an autobiography—which it is not. The digitally rendered cartoon illustrations that show Robinson as a perpetual child fall sadly short of capturing his demeanor and prowess.

A memorable life—a forgettable presentation. (photographs, timeline, sources, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4086-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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I AM AMELIA EARHART

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The ever-popular pioneering female pilot gets a breezy and very incomplete biography.

Meltzer gives Amelia a first-person voice and, in a very sketchy narrative laced with comic-book speech bubbles, presents her as a dare-devil tomboy. The flying bug hits her when she goes up for a flight with Frank Hawks at the age of 23. She tries her hand at different jobs to earn money for flying lessons; Meltzer, writing too glibly, calls stenography, one of those failed efforts, a “fancy-schmancy word.” As Amelia makes her solo trans-Atlantic flight, she shouts, “This is AWESOME!”—a word no doubt intended to resonate with contemporary readers but unlikely to have occurred to Earhart at the moment. The text concludes with an exhortation to “Never let anyone stop you. / Whatever your dream is, chase it. / Work hard for it.” There is nary a mention of her final, disastrous around-the-world flight and disappearance over the Pacific. Eliopoulos’ digitally rendered art is cartoon in style, with Earhart resembling a bobblehead doll and wearing an aviator hat and goggles. The audience for this mixed-up comic/bio is not at all clear. Given its incomplete information and lack of source material (an actual quote from Earhart is unreferenced), there is no justifying calling it a biography. Nor is there enough entertainment to call this a comic book.

Skip. (photographs) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4082-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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