Well meaning but insubstantial.



This amuse-bouche introduction to LGBTQ+ individuals will tantalize readers.

Some 25 racially diverse Americans’ lives are documented in biographical morsels, arranged apparently arbitrarily and with text that’s not substantial enough to do more than tease. Figures profiled include White humanitarian Jane Addams, African American civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, Puerto Rican performer Ricky Martin, and White filmmakers Lana and Lilly Wachowski. Each entry provides the subject’s year of birth (and of death, when applicable), a photo (in a digitally rendered frame reminiscent of 1990s clip art), and a few scant facts about each subject. George Takei, the Japanese American actor and activist, and Dr. Sara Josephine Baker, a White public health innovator, are lucky enough to merit two whole paragraphs; everyone else receives only one. Absent from all profiles are many common facts typically found in traditional biographies: Exact date of birth, place of birth, date of death, place of death, cause of death, etc., are all missing. Also peculiar is the absence from several profiles of the specific aspect of LGBTQ+ identity that warrants their inclusion. The backmatter includes a listing of 14 additional figures, summarized in two to three sentences each; such audience-relevant figures as African American author Jacqueline Woodson and Black/biracial actor Amandla Stenberg are relegated to this roundup. There are also a timeline that stops at 2015 (well before Trump administration politics started cutting into trans rights), a glossary, source notes, and three URLs for support networks.  (Editor's note: Since this review went to press, the book’s timeline has been updated to include the 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling to protect LGBTQ+ individuals from workplace discrimination.)

Well meaning but insubstantial. (Collective biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-6844-6216-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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This introduction to puberty may be particularly helpful for girls looking ahead to that stage.


A growing-up guide for preteen girls.

This puberty-navigation guide covers girls’ bodily changes, body care, health, relationships with family and friends, staying safe, and handling stress. In many cases the author, a registered nurse, has covered the same material as she did in various editions of this title as well as The Boy’s Body Book. This girls’ book skips the topics of sleep and performance-enhancement drugs in favor of a section on eating disorders. As in the boys’ book, controversial subjects are addressed generally and conservatively if at all. She includes a rough diagram of female reproductive organs and tells her young readers about menstruation and visiting a gynecologist but not how babies are made. She talks about having boys as friends, saying “Don’t put pressure on yourself to call any of your close friendships ‘dating.’ ” The strength of this title is its emphasis on good grooming, healthy living habits, and positive relationships. Added for this fourth edition is new material on interacting with adults, personal empowerment, body language, reputations, and “learning disabilities,” helpful information for the growing segment of the preteen population identified with cognitive and social learning differences. Tallardy’s cartoon illustrations show girls and adults of varying ethnicities and provide a cheerful accompaniment.

This introduction to puberty may be particularly helpful for girls looking ahead to that stage. (resources, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60433-714-3

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Cider Mill Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012).


A memoir of the first 14 years in the life of Australian Robert Hoge, born with stunted legs and a tumor in the middle of his face.

In 1972, Robert is born, the youngest of five children, with fishlike eyes on the sides of his face, a massive lump in place of his nose, and malformed legs. As baby Robert is otherwise healthy, the doctors convince his parents to approve the first of many surgeries to reduce his facial difference. One leg is also amputated, and Robert comes home to his everyday white, working-class family. There's no particular theme to the tale of Robert's next decade and a half: he experiences school and teasing, attempts to participate in sports, and is shot down by a girl. Vignette-driven choppiness and the lack of an overarching narrative would make the likeliest audience be those who seek disability stories. However, young Robert's ongoing quest to identify as "normal"—a quest that remains unchanged until a sudden turnaround on the penultimate page—risks alienating readers comfortable with their disabilities. Brief lyrical moments ("as compulsory as soggy tomato sandwiches at snack time") appeal but are overwhelmed by the dry, distant prose dominating this autobiography.

An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012). (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-425-28775-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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