THE BRAVE ESCAPE OF EDITH WHARTON

Edith Wharton, a New York City child of wealth and privilege, escaped in several ways, “[b]ut Edith’s keen eye, her reading...and her need to tell the truth were the beginnings of her brave escape from the expectations of the society into which she’d been born.” Wharton’s truth-telling appears in the sharply observed traits of her characters, traits that could not have pleased New York society’s rich and [in]famous. Although Wooldridge does not provide critiques of her writings, she does place Wharton in her times and describe her personal life, including her painful love affair and her several homes in the United States and abroad. But her subject does not come off the page as a full person in this chronological account, which is a pity, as most young readers will likely bring little familiarity of the subject to this reading. This lack is partially compensated for by the many photos and a full panoply of reference niceties: source notes, bibliography, list of Wharton’s works, film and TV adaptations. In all, a useful study that might lead sophisticated young readers to Wharton’s novels. (index) (Biography. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-23630-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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A useful work of scientific history.

ATOMIC WOMEN

THE UNTOLD STORIES OF THE SCIENTISTS WHO HELPED CREATE THE NUCLEAR BOMB

Intertwining stories of the often ignored female scientists whose research led to the creation of the atomic bomb.

Montillo begins with Marie Curie, the one female physicist most people can name. After identifying, isolating, and purifying the first known radioactive elements—radium and polonium—she and her husband, Pierre, shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in physics. Readers may not be aware that fellow French scientists conspired to keep her name off the award, believing incorrectly that she only assisted Pierre. Their daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, would also win a Nobel Prize for her work with radioactive elements. Austrian Jew Lise Meitner fled to Stockholm to escape the Nazis, where she did mathematical work proving the possibility of nuclear fission. As World War II progressed, America began to explore the possibility of weaponizing nuclear energy, and the Manhattan Project began. American physicist Leona Woods helped perform the first nuclear chain reaction while Joan Hinton built elements of the first nuclear reactor. Montillo tells their stories—along with those of many other women—in this comprehensive work. The narrative bounces back and forth in time, sometimes in ways that may confuse readers, and, unfortunately, it ends with the nuclear bombs falling on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—it would have been nice to read something about what these women achieved afterward. Still, the book is lively, well-researched, and comprehensible.

A useful work of scientific history. (author’s note, timeline, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-48959-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow

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