Unusual, well done, and useful in many settings.

STORIES OF THE SAINTS

BOLD AND INSPIRING TALES OF ADVENTURE, GRACE, AND COURAGE

A modern book of the saints.

Wallace presents the stories, actual or apocryphal, of 80 men and women who served God so well that they were elevated to sainthood after their deaths, arranged chronologically from Polycarp (69-156 C.E.) to Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997). Each two- to three-page account includes where the saint lived, who they are considered patron of, and their emblem and feast day. The saints included span centuries and cultures, including well-known figures such as Joan of Arc and Thomas Aquinas, more obscure ones like Mary of Egypt and John Nepomucene, and those from non-Western cultures such as Josephine Bakhita, who originally came from Sudan, and Martin de Porres, a mixed-race Peruvian of African and European descent. Wallace points out in her introduction that while some saints’ stories are historically documented, others, particularly the very early ones, are more along the lines of folktakes. “Just because we can’t be sure a story really happened doesn’t mean it isn’t true in another way.” That’s good, since some of them are frankly gruesome—Lucy with her eyes plucked out and handed to her on a dish, calmly reinserts them and can still see—as well as perplexing. Wallace presents them all with quiet confidence that the stories matter, and she convinces us that they do. Thornborrow’s illustrations combine traditional iconography with modern graphic art, effectively dramatizing each tale.

Unusual, well done, and useful in many settings. (Religion. 8-adult)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7611-9327-2

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

From the They Did What? series

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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Humble, endearing and utterly easy to relate to; don’t miss this one.

THE DUMBEST IDEA EVER!

The charismatic creator of the Eisner-nominated Amelia Rules! series recounts his beginnings as a cartoonist.

From the very first panel, Gownley’s graphic memoir is refreshingly different. He’s not the archetypal nerd, and he doesn’t retreat to draw due to feelings of loneliness or isolation. Gownley seems to be a smart kid and a talented athlete, and he has a loyal group of friends and a girlfriend. After he falls ill, first with chicken pox and then pneumonia, he falls behind in school and loses his head-of-the-class standing—a condition he is determined to reverse. A long-standing love of comics leads him to write his own, though his first attempt is shot down by his best friend, who suggests he should instead write a comic about their group. He does, and it’s an instant sensation. Gownley’s story is wonderful; his small-town life is so vividly evinced, it’s difficult to not get lost in it. While readers will certainly pick up on the nostalgia, it should be refreshing—if not completely alien—for younger readers to see teens interacting without texting, instead using phones with cords. Eagle-eyed readers will also be able to see the beginnings of his well-loved books about Amelia. He includes an author’s note that shouldn’t be overlooked—just be sure to keep the tissues handy.

Humble, endearing and utterly easy to relate to; don’t miss this one. (author’s note) (Graphic memoir. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-45346-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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