A positive, dramatic football biography likely to encourage global and historical research.



The story of NFL linebacker Tamba Hali’s path from a childhood in war-torn Liberia to becoming one of the Kansas City Chiefs’ all-time greats.

After a just-the-facts–style rundown of Tamba Hali’s football career (and awards), this biography’s narrative proper opens early in the Chiefs’ 2006 season; they are winless after two games and down their starting quarterback. Their bright spot is seeing first-round draft pick Tamba (the book uses his first name) in action as the rookie achieves his first NFL sack along with a forced-fumble, right in front of his newly-arrived-to-America mother, whom he hasn’t seen in over a decade. After this charged anecdote, the rest of the story flows chronologically, taking readers through the Liberian civil war that started when Tamba was only 6. Brief historical explanations of Liberia’s origins and ethnic divides contextualize, and atrocities such as the use of child soldiers are mentioned without gruesome specifics, prompting only readers ready to handle the details to research it further. After escaping the country and a 2-year-long bureaucratic process, he and his brothers are allowed to join their father in America. A fearless, hard worker, Tamba tackles literacy and football, leading to high school and Penn State successes—with the dangling carrot of an NFL career that would enable him to bring his mother to safety in America. A companion title on soccer star Becky Sauerbrunn publishes simultaneously

A positive, dramatic football biography likely to encourage global and historical research. (Biography. 8-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8220-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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


From the They Did What? series

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. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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A splendid volume for young adventurers.



Based on her work with middle-school students, Long offers lessons on how to stay healthy and out of trouble while awaiting rescue, the same lessons taught to adults in her survival classes.

Her matter-of-fact, no-nonsense tone will play well with young readers, and the clear writing style is appropriate to the content. The engaging guide covers everything from building shelters to avoiding pigs and javelinas. With subjects like kissing bugs, scorpions, snow blindness and “How going to the bathroom can attract bears and mountain lions,” the volume invites browsing as much as studying. The information offered is sometimes obvious: “If you find yourself facing an alligator, get away from it”; sometime humorous: Raccoons will “fight with your dog, steal all your food, then climb up a tree and call you bad names in raccoon language”; and sometimes not comforting: “When alligators attack on land, they usually make one grab at you; if they miss, you are usually safe.” But when survival is at stake, the more information the better, especially when leavened with some wit. An excellent bibliography will lead young readers to a host of fascinating websites, and 150 clipart-style line drawings complement the text.

A splendid volume for young adventurers. (index not seen) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56976-708-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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