From the Wait! What? series

Not a standout on the Earhart shelf.

Unexpected facts and fun trivia pepper a new biography of Amelia Earhart.

Siblings Paige and Turner, who both present Black, challenge each other’s Earhart knowledge as they share information about the famous pilot. There is no narrative as such. Written as a conversational exchange of facts between the two, the book covers aspects of Earhart’s life including her daredevil youth, a timeline of her impressive flight achievements, her unorthodox marriage to publisher G.P. Putnam, and her life as a celebrity. Even readers who are already well versed in Earhart lore may learn something new, such as the fact that astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s father helped prepare Amelia for her solo flight across the Atlantic. Young readers will enjoy the entertaining antics and background on her childhood, and lively illustrations complement the text. The infodump format moves readers from topic to topic briskly, providing an overview of Earhart’s life and career rather than an in-depth analysis. Many details are packed into a short book, which means that some heavier aspects of her story get a brief treatment that borders on irreverent. Gutman chose to include facts about Earhart’s first car, which she named “Yellow Peril,” in a section of additional facts; this racist term is glossed over rather than addressed with readers. (The reference to the car’s name will be removed in subsequent printings.)

Not a standout on the Earhart shelf. (Biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-01562-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021


From the All About America series

Shot through with vague generalities and paired to a mix of equally generic period images and static new art, this overview remorselessly sucks all the juice from its topic.

This survey of the growth of industries in this country from the Colonial period to the post–World War II era is written in the driest of textbook-ese: “Factories needed good transportation so that materials could reach them and so that materials could reach buyers”; “The metal iron is obtained by heating iron ore”; “In 1860, the North said that free men, not slaves, should do the work.” This text is supplemented by a jumble of narrative-overview blocks, boxed side observations and terse captions on each thematic spread. The design is packed with overlapping, misleadingly seamless and rarely differentiated mixes of small, heavily trimmed contemporary prints or (later) photos and drab reconstructions of workshop or factory scenes, along with pictures of significant inventions and technological innovations (which are, in several cases, reduced to background design elements). The single, tiny map has no identifying labels. Other new entries in the All About America series deal similarly with Explorers, Trappers, and Pioneers, A Nation of Immigrants and Stagecoaches and Railroads. Utilitarian, at best—but more likely to dim reader interest than kindle it. (index, timeline, resource lists) (Nonfiction. 8-10)


Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7534-6670-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012




It’s an often-told story, but the author is still in a position to give it a unique perspective.

The author of Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America (2004) tells her father’s tale again, for younger readers.

Though using a less personal tone this time and referring to herself in the third person, Robinson still devotes as much attention to his family life, youth and post-baseball career as she does to his achievements on the field. Writing in short sentences and simple language, she presents a clear picture of the era’s racial attitudes and the pressures he faced both in the military service and in baseball—offering plenty of clear reasons to regard him not just as a champion athlete, but as a hero too. An early remark about how he ran with “a bunch of black, Japanese, and Mexican boys” while growing up in Pasadena is insensitively phrased, and a sweeping claim that by 1949 “[t]he racial tension was broken” in baseball is simplistic. Nevertheless, by and large her account covers the bases adequately. The many photos include an admixture of family snapshots, and a closing Q-and-A allows the author to announce the imminent release of a new feature film about Robinson.

It’s an often-told story, but the author is still in a position to give it a unique perspective. (Biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-54006-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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