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Wears its agenda on both rolled-up sleeves, but it’s set apart by the admixture of unfamiliar names.

Profiles of achievers, mostly of the present or recent past, focusing on character traits that make them worthy role models.

Aside from tricking biased readers into picking this up, there is no reason to brand it as “for boys”—not only because 15 of the chosen figures are or were women, but also because all were chosen as exemplars of one or more of 20 “Special Powers” unrelated to sex, such as “compassion,” “creativity,” “intelligence,” and “perseverance.” Along with such usual suspects as Jackie Robinson, Abraham Lincoln, and Malala Yousafzai, the arbitrarily ordered roster mines less-picked-over ground, from William Tyndale, who translated the New Testament into English and was burned at the stake for it, to, more recently, Yasuteru Yamada, organizer of a corps of senior citizens volunteering to help clean up the Fukushima nuclear facility. The lineup is less notable for its diversity, though it does include 15 people of color. Each receives a two-page profile that extols their virtues (not always uncritically: Lincoln “sacrificed his life, along with 620,000 others, for the future of the United States”) and urges readers to find ways of practicing said virtues in their own lives. Each also comes with a heavily stylized likeness. There are no source notes.

Wears its agenda on both rolled-up sleeves, but it’s set apart by the admixture of unfamiliar names. (Collective biography. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-7336335-0-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Bushel & Peck Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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In no particular order and using no set criteria for his selections, veteran sportscaster Berman pays tribute to an arbitrary gallery of baseball stars—all familiar names and, except for the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, retired from play for decades. Repeatedly taking the stance that statistics are just numbers but then reeling off batting averages, home-run totals, wins (for pitchers) and other data as evidence of greatness, he offers career highlights in a folksy narrative surrounded by photos, side comments and baseball-card–style notes in side boxes. Readers had best come to this with some prior knowledge, since he casually drops terms like “slugging percentage,” “dead ball era” and “barnstorming” without explanation and also presents a notably superficial picture of baseball’s history—placing the sport’s “first half-century” almost entirely in the 1900s, for instance, and condescendingly noting that Jackie Robinson’s skill led Branch Rickey to decide that he “was worthy of becoming the first black player to play in the majors.” The awesome feats of Ruth, Mantle, the Gibsons Bob and Josh, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and the rest are always worth a recap—but this one’s strictly minor league. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4022-3886-4

Page Count: 138

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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From the Sterling Biographies series

A spirited biography untangles the accretion of myth and story around Pocahontas and makes clear what little is actually known and what fragments of the historical record are available. The text is rich in illustration and in sidebars (on longhouses, colonial diet, weaponry and so on) that illuminate the central narrative. Whether Pocahontas saved John Smith’s life directly or as part of an elaborate ritual might not matter, argues Jones. Pocahontas and her people were certainly responsible for keeping the English settlement of Jamestown from starvation. Relations between English settlers and Native people were uneasy at best, and the author traces these carefully, relating how Pocahontas was later kidnapped by the British and held for ransom. When none was forthcoming, she was converted both to English ways and the Christian religion, marrying the widower John Rolfe and traveling to England, where Pocahontas saw John Smith once again and died at about the age of 21. An excellent stab at myth busting and capturing the nuances of both the figure and her times. (glossary, bibliography, source notes, index) (Biography. 9-12)


Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4027-6844-6

Page Count: 124

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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