The author and illustrator (The Babe & I, 1999, Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man, 1997) team up for a third time in this engaging picture book biography of the first woman to swim the English Channel. Gertrude Ederle, born in 1906, learned to swim at age seven when, after falling into a pond and nearly drowning, her father decided that teaching his daughter to swim was essential. It immediately became apparent that Trudy had a great talent—she won her first big race at 15, swam from lower Manhattan to Sandy Hook, New Jersey at 16 (breaking the men’s record along the way), and won three medals at the 1924 Paris Olympics. In 1925, Trudy made her first, albeit unsuccessful, attempt to swim the English Channel and in 1926, on her second attempt, she became the first woman to successfully swim the 20-odd mile body of water. David Adler clearly places this biography in its cultural context, reminding the reader that women and girls were expected to stay at home in this era and were excluded from many activities. Women were deemed the weaker sex and to challenge this notion, especially in the world of sport, took exceptional courage and unusual determination. The stylized illustrations successfully evoke the period of the 1920s. A wide range of beautiful blues, greens, and grays depicts the various forms of water—ocean, pool, pond—and seem thickly applied, deliberately contrasting with the flatness of the human figures. A welcome addition to the growing body of works about female athletes. (Picture book/biography. 59)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-201969-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000


An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy.

Through the author’s own childhood diary entries, a seventh grader details her inner life before and after 9/11.

Alyssa’s diary entries start in September 2000, in the first week of her seventh grade year. She’s 11 and dealing with typical preteen concerns—popularity and anxiety about grades—along with other things more particular to her own life. She’s shuffling between Queens and Manhattan to share time between her divorced parents and struggling with thick facial hair and classmates who make her feel like she’s “not a whole person” due to her mixed White and Puerto Rican heritage. Alyssa is endlessly earnest and awkward as she works up the courage to talk to her crush, Alejandro; gushes about her dreams of becoming a shoe designer; and tries to solve her burgeoning unibrow problem. The diaries also have a darker side, as a sense of impending doom builds as the entries approach 9/11, especially because Alyssa’s father works in finance in the World Trade Center. As a number of the diary entries are taken directly from the author’s originals, they effortlessly capture the loud, confusing feelings middle school brings out. The artwork, in its muted but effective periwinkle tones, lends a satisfying layer to the diary’s accessible and delightful format.

An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy. (author's note) (Graphic memoir. 8-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-77427-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021


"From the beginning the baby was a disappointment to her mother," Cooney (The Story of Christmas, 1995, etc.) begins in this biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. She is a plain child, timid and serious; it is clear that only a few people loved her. After her parents die, she is cared for in the luxurious homes of wealthy relatives, but does not find acceptance until she arrives in a British boarding school, where she thrives on the attention of the headmistress, who guides, teaches, and inspires her. Cooney does not gloss over the girl's misery and disappointments; she also shows the rare happy times and sows the seeds of Eleanor's future work. The illustrations of house interiors often depict Eleanor as an isolated, lonely figure, her indistinct face and hollow eyes watching from a distance the human interactions she does not yet enjoy. Paintings reveal the action of a steamship collision; the hectic activity of a park full of children and their governesses; a night full of stars portending the girl's luminous future. The image of plain Eleanor being fitted with her first beautiful dress is an indelible one. Readers will be moved by the unfairness of her early life and rejoice when she finds her place in the world. An author's note supplies other relevant information. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-670-86159-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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