A fascinating introduction to a remarkable life.

VIRGINIA WAS A SPY

The only woman awarded the U.S. Distinguished Service Cross during World War II, Virginia Hall (1906-1982) was always “most original.”

Growing up in Baltimore, Virginia “was different from most girls of her time,” hunting, fishing, and collecting wild animals. Virginia’s “hunger to explore” led her to work for the U.S. Foreign Service in Turkey, where she shattered her left foot in a hunting accident, resulting in amputation below her knee. Undaunted, Virginia learned to walk with a wooden prosthesis, moved to Paris, and witnessed the German invasion and occupation of France. Volunteering as an ambulance driver until Paris surrendered, Virginia then became the first female undercover agent for the British, gathering information and assisting British pilots. Fleeing France, Virginia hiked over the snow-covered Pyrenees into Spain but eventually returned to France as an American spy disguised as a French milkmaid, transmitting radio messages about German troops and leading a French resistance group until the war ended. Repetition of the refrain, “Virginia was Virginia,” punctuates the factual text, introducing each amazing stage of her life. The book opens with a photo of Virginia’s passport, and Kelley’s realistic illustrations, appropriately rendered in somber hues, stark outlines, and arresting angles, highlight dramatic episodes. Suspenseful close-ups of Virginia spying on German soldiers in the French countryside add to the wartime atmosphere. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

A fascinating introduction to a remarkable life. (author's note) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-56846-348-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few...

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT FREEDOM

Shamir offers an investigation of the foundations of freedoms in the United States via its founding documents, as well as movements and individuals who had great impacts on shaping and reshaping those institutions.

The opening pages of this picture book get off to a wobbly start with comments such as “You know that feeling you get…when you see a wide open field that you can run through without worrying about traffic or cars? That’s freedom.” But as the book progresses, Shamir slowly steadies the craft toward that wide-open field of freedom. She notes the many obvious-to-us-now exclusivities that the founding political documents embodied—that the entitled, white, male authors did not extend freedom to enslaved African-Americans, Native Americans, and women—and encourages readers to learn to exercise vigilance and foresight. The gradual inclusion of these left-behind people paints a modestly rosy picture of their circumstances today, and the text seems to give up on explaining how Native Americans continue to be left behind. Still, a vital part of what makes freedom daunting is its constant motion, and that is ably expressed. Numerous boxed tidbits give substance to the bigger political picture. Who were the abolitionists and the suffragists, what were the Montgomery bus boycott and the “Uprising of 20,000”? Faulkner’s artwork conveys settings and emotions quite well, and his drawing of Ruby Bridges is about as darling as it gets. A helpful timeline and bibliography appear as endnotes.

A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few misfires. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54728-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A galloping marvel—enlightening and entertaining.

DR. SEUSS'S HORSE MUSEUM

A succinct introduction to art history via a Seussian museum of equine art.

This posthumously published text recently discovered in Ted Geisel’s studio uses horse-focused art pieces to provide historical context to artistic movements. Showing art ranging from the Lascaux cave paintings to an untitled 1994 sculpture by Deborah Butterfield, Joyner’s playful illustrations surround the curated photographs of art pieces. By using horses as the departing point in the artistic journey, Seuss and Joyner are able to introduce diverse perspectives, artifacts, and media, including Harnessed Horse from the northern Wei dynasty, a Navajo pictorial blanket titled Oh, My Beautiful Horses, and photographs by Eadweard Muybridge. Questions to readers prompt thought about the artistic concepts introduced, aided by a cast of diverse museumgoers who demonstrate the art terms in action. Joyner further engages readers by illustrating both general cultural and Seussian references. Glimpses of the Cat in the Hat are seen throughout the book; he poses as a silent observer, genially guarding Seuss’ legacy. For art enthusiasts, some illustrations become an inside joke, as references to artists such as Alexander Calder, Salvador Dalí, Marina Abramovic, and René Magritte make appearances. Thorough backmatter contains notes on each art piece referenced along with a study of the manuscript’s history and Seuss’ artistic style. Absent, probably unsurprisingly, is any acknowledgment of the Cat’s antecedents in minstrelsy and Seuss’ other racist work, but prominent among the museumgoers are black- and Asian-presenting characters as well as a girl wearing hijab and a child who uses a wheelchair.

A galloping marvel—enlightening and entertaining. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55912-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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