A fascinating introduction to a once-celebrated, now lesser-known lightkeeper.

On Sept. 1, 1902, Juliet Fish Nichols began keeping a journal.

Newly installed as the lighthouse keeper on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, she enumerated her many duties, requiring physical strength, steadfastness, determination, and bravery. Every evening, she had to light the oil lamp and keep it shining all night long. On an April morning in 1906, the great San Francisco earthquake damaged the lighthouse, leaving Juliet heartbroken. A few months later, when the bay was saturated with a dangerous, impenetrable fog, the hand-cranked fog bell machine broke down, and Juliet had to manually strike the bell with a mallet every 15 seconds throughout the night to warn ships away from the rocks. Her journal entries, based on historical documents, appear in light, thin handwriting and illuminate her mostly solitary life, wholly dedicated to her important work and punctuated by times of terror and danger as well as occasional trips to the city across the bay for supplies. The story conveys Juliet’s deep appreciation for the beauty of the sea and the island’s landscape. Sumpter’s carefully composed double-page illustrations show the lighthouse, harbor, and city from a variety of perspectives and add detail and dimension to the narration. They show, for example, that the lighthouse was not a tower but a cottage with an attached bell house on a platform high on a cliff. Juliet presents White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A fascinating introduction to a once-celebrated, now lesser-known lightkeeper. (additional facts, further reading) (Picture-book biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-951836-37-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Cameron + Company

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022


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

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 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022



Disappointingly lackadaisical.

Punctuated—unsurprisingly—by explosions, an account of the groundbreaking rocketeer’s childhood and first experiments.

Fueled by an early interest in hands-on science nurtured by his parents and sparked by reading The War of the Worlds, Goddard’s ambition to “build something that would soar to space” led to years of experimentation and failure analysis. Finally, in 1926, a brief but successful flight pointed the way to “every shuttle that has blasted into space, every astronaut who has defied gravity, and every man who has walked on the moon.” Fulton occasionally skimps on scientific details (in one childhood trial Robert “emptied a small vial of hydrogen into a pan”; even in the backmatter, there’s no explanation why, as he notes in his journal, “Hydrogen and oxygen when combined near a flame will ignite”). Still, she highlights the profound curiosity and determined, methodical effort that ultimately earned her subject a well-deserved place in the pantheon of scientists and inventors. Scientific gear in Funck’s cartoon illustrations often looks generic, and in one scene he depicts a rocket that is markedly different from the one described in the adjacent narrative. Moreover, his explosions look like fried eggs, and most come with oddly undersized if all-capped onomatopoeia (“BOOM!”; “POP!”) that underplays both the melodramatic potential and the real danger to which Goddard must have exposed himself. Goddard and his family are white.

Disappointingly lackadaisical. (afterword, list of sources) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6098-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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