A superficial remake, still agenda ridden, simplistic, and overblown.

THOMAS JEFFERSON AND THE TRIPOLI PIRATES

THE WAR THAT CHANGED AMERICAN HISTORY (YOUNG READERS ADAPTATION)

The slimmed-down version of a 2015 account of the United States’ first war with the “Mohammedan world.”

Casting the Muslim lands of what were then dubbed the “Barbary States” as our young country’s “first enemy,” Fox News commentator Kilmeade and co-author Yaeger, who previously collaborated on George Washington’s Secret Six (2015) recount the course of this first, indecisive clash from the capture of the merchant ship Dauphin in 1785 to the 1805 treaty with the bashaw of Tripoli. (The second, more permanent clash in 1815 is covered in a brief footnote.) Jefferson was secretary of state and president for much of that period, but he seems rather dragged into the episode, coming off as a strong voice for a military solution to the conflict but never directly involved in events or negotiations. Moreover, though much is made of how captured American crews were enslaved by the treacherous, greedy local deys, there is no mention that Jefferson himself was a slaveholder. As the treaty was not won in battle, the authors deem it “tainted, but the conflict did demonstrate that “Americans were not to be trifled with” and allowed the U.S. to feel that “military force had helped regain national honor.” Small, sparse period illustrations are sometimes irrelevant or improperly placed. Wide margins, lots of blank pages, and eight perfunctory appendices pad the page count.

A superficial remake, still agenda ridden, simplistic, and overblown. (cast of characters, timeline, endnotes, index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-425-28895-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Macy wheels out another significant and seldom explored chapter in women’s history.

MOTOR GIRLS

HOW WOMEN TOOK THE WHEEL AND DROVE BOLDLY INTO THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Well-documented proof that, when it came to early automobiles, it wasn’t just men who took the wheel.

Despite relentlessly flashy page design that is more distracting than otherwise and a faint typeface sure to induce eyestrain, this companion to Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (2011) chronicles decided shifts in gender attitudes and expectations as it puts women (American women, mostly) behind the wheel in the first decades of the 20th century. Sidebar profiles and features, photos, advertisements, and clippings from contemporary magazines and newspapers festoon a revved-up narrative that is often set in angular blocks for added drama. Along with paying particular attention to women who went on the road to campaign for the vote and drove ambulances and other motor vehicles during World War I, Macy recounts notable speed and endurance races, and she introduces skilled drivers/mechanics such as Alice Ramsey and Joan Newton Cuneo. She also diversifies the predominantly white cast with nods to Madam C.J. Walker, her daughter, A’Lelia (both avid motorists), and the wartime Colored Women’s Motor Corps. An intro by Danica Patrick, checklists of “motoring milestones,” and an extended account of an 1895 race run and won by men do more for the page count than the overall story—but it’s nonetheless a story worth the telling.

Macy wheels out another significant and seldom explored chapter in women’s history. (index, statistics, source notes, annotated reading list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2697-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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If readers can make sense of this story, they’re likely able to tackle the original instead.

THE PERFECT HORSE

THE DARING RESCUE OF HORSES KIDNAPPED DURING WORLD WAR II

Letts adapts her bestselling 2016 work of the same title for young readers.

As World War II sweeps across Europe, the fates of several master horsemen become entwined. In Poland, Andrzej Kristalovich, head of the national stud farm, sees his life’s work disappear when Russian soldiers capture his horses. Nazi Germans, invading next, restore some of the animals in order to breed them for the Third Reich. Meanwhile, in Vienna, Olympic medalist Alois Podhajsky is desperately trying to care for the Lipizzan stallions at the famed Spanish Riding School even as the invading Germans capture the Lipizzan stud farms and move most of the horses to Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile, at an American Army base in Kansas, Maj. Hank Reed is overseeing the cavalry’s transition from horses, no longer useful in warfare, to mechanized vehicles. These threads come together at the end of the war when Reed orchestrates a complex rescue of both sets of horses. This is not a particularly successful adaptation. It’s shorter than the original, but both the storyline and timeline are fragmented, making it difficult for the putative audience of 8- to 12-year-olds to follow, and extraneous details fail to advance the main narrative. Aside from a map and archival images (both not seen), there is no timeline or other visual aid to help organize the narrative. Characters are all white.

If readers can make sense of this story, they’re likely able to tackle the original instead. (author’s note, characters, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-64474-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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