PIECE BY PIECE

HOW I BUILT MY LIFE (NO INSTRUCTIONS REQUIRED)

Humorous and uplifting.

A young man from Andorra recounts how he became the first person to build a functional prosthetic arm using LEGO bricks in this memoir translated from Spanish and co-authored with his father.

Due to Poland syndrome, David was born with half a right arm. In a clever introduction, he asks readers to count their fingers, then remarks that they possess no 11th digit, just as he has five rather than 10 fingers. But neither he nor they are missing a thing, he declares. For him, the word disability connotes limitations, while his preferred term, diff-ability, highlights adaptability and possibility. However, his path to acceptance wasn’t easy. With humor and candor, he describes contending with pity, bullying, and romantic heartbreak as a result of his limb difference. Readers will sympathize with his desire to fit in, his frustration at encountering setbacks, and his struggles with high school academics after his beloved abuela’s death. Fortunately, his family’s support was constant; his father was even able to construct devices that enabled him to swim and ride a bike. David quickly discovered his own knack for inventing via LEGO sets, a hobby that culminated in building a prosthetic arm that would make him famous worldwide. Though his stream-of-consciousness narration is occasionally difficult to follow, his wit is engaging, and his interactions with his family are heartwarming. While readers needn’t be LEGO fans to admire David’s ingenuity, fellow builders may be inspired to dream up their own inventions.

Humorous and uplifting. (photos) (Memoir. 9-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66250-427-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Amazon Crossing Kids

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

From the They Did What? series

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

PLAY LIKE A GIRL

A sincere, genuine, and uplifting book that affirms the importance of being true to yourself.

Middle school drama hits hard in this coming-of-age graphic memoir.

Natural competitor Misty has faced off against the boys for years, always coming out on top, but now they’re moving on without her into the land of full-contact football. Never one to back away from a challenge, Misty resolves to join the team and convinces her best friend, Bree, to join her. While Misty pours herself into practicing, obviously uninterested Bree—who was motivated more by getting to be around boys than doing sports—drifts toward popular queen bee Ava, creating an uneasy dynamic. Feeling estranged from Bree, Misty, who typically doesn’t think much about her appearance, tries to navigate seventh grade—even experimenting with a more traditionally feminine gender expression—while also mastering her newfound talent for tackling and facing hostility from some boys on the team. Readers with uncommon interests will relate to the theme of being the odd one out. Social exclusion and cutting remarks can be traumatic, so it’s therapeutic to see Misty begin to embrace her differences instead of trying to fit in with frenemies who don’t value her. The illustrations are alive with color and rich emotional details, pairing perfectly with the heartfelt storytelling. The husband-and-wife duo’s combined efforts will appeal to fans of Raina Telgemeier and Shannon Hale. Main characters present as White; some background characters read as Black.

A sincere, genuine, and uplifting book that affirms the importance of being true to yourself. (Graphic memoir. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-306469-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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