An altogether trite, values-driven star vehicle—worthy of purpose but aside from occasional game action, as dull as a rain...

HIT & MISS

Fourth-grader “Derek” works his way through a batting slump, pulls an outsider into his circle of friends, and atones for being a bully in this semiautobiographical sequel co-authored by the recently retired Yankees captain.

The actual story is preceded by a good-behavior “contract” between the future star and his invariably strict-but-fair parents, a list of 10 “Life Lessons,” plus an introductory note explaining that this episode—the second in a planned 10—will be based on the theme “Think Before You Act.” It is entirely a vehicle for platitudes and behavior modeling. Notwithstanding the gibes of his friends, Derek holds out a welcoming hand to Dave, a seemingly standoffish new class- and teammate who turns out to be a lonely rich kid with absentee parents. Meanwhile, Derek’s delight at the opening of Little League season turns to determination as he goes hitless through the first three games. Then he angrily gets into the face of a kindergartener who is bullying his little sister, Sharlee, and is called into the principal’s office with his parents for a disciplinary conference. Wheeling along past billboard-sized doses of both life and baseball coaching, plus repeated reminders to “stay positive,” every plotline ultimately coasts to a salutary resolution: Dave earns general acceptance through improved play on the field; Derek shows sincere remorse for his misdeed and formally apologizes to his victim (who later befriends Sharlee); and the base hits finally start coming as Derek leads his team to the championship game.

An altogether trite, values-driven star vehicle—worthy of purpose but aside from occasional game action, as dull as a rain delay. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2315-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

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An outstanding contribution to the recent spate of reminders that women too helped send men to the moon.

THE SPACESUIT

HOW A SEAMSTRESS HELPED PUT MAN ON THE MOON

Who would have guessed from standard-issue histories of the space race that the spacesuits worn on the moon were largely the work of women employed by the manufacturer of Playtex bras and lines of baby wear?

Here, in a profile that laudably focuses on her subject’s unusual skills, dedicated work ethic, and uncommon attention to detail rather than her gender or family life, Donald takes Eleanor “Ellie” Foraker from childhood fascination with needle and thread to work at ILC Dover, then on to the team that created the safe, flexible A7L spacesuit—beating out firms of military designers and engineers to win a NASA competition. Though the author clearly attempts to steer clear of sexist language, she still leaves Foraker and her co-workers dubbed “seamstresses” throughout and “engineer” rather unfairly (all so designated presenting male here) defined in the glossary as “someone who designs and makes things.” Still, her descriptions of the suit’s concepts and construction are clear and specific enough to give readers a real appreciation for the technical challenges that were faced and solved. Landy gives the figures in her cleanly drawn illustrations individual features along with period hair and clothing, varying skin tones so that though most are white, at least two are women of color.

An outstanding contribution to the recent spate of reminders that women too helped send men to the moon. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-84886-415-3

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Maverick Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A candid introduction to a little-known figure in Jewish American history.

JUDAH TOURO DIDN'T WANT TO BE FAMOUS

The successful business life and subsequent philanthropy of one of early America’s wealthiest and most pious Jews are recounted in a picture-book biography.

Raised by his uncle, Isaac Hays, a founder of Boston’s first bank, Judah learned much about shipping, real estate, and trade before setting off on his own at the dawn of the 19th century. A quiet, private man, Judah made his fortune in New Orleans trading New England products. After being wounded during the War of 1812, Judah began to concentrate on putting his wealth toward charitable causes. Simply drawn illustrations in muted brown, gray, and blue hues have both a childlike feel and the look of crayons or colored pencil in combination with watercolor; this results in a humble view not often seen in representations of New Orleans and appropriately reflects the story’s themes. The easy-flowing narrative tells how this son of a rabbi in a Sephardic immigrant family adhered to the Jewish tradition of giving inconspicuously, to causes both local and all over the world, hoping to avoid recognition for his good deeds. Some of these were paying for the freedom of enslaved African Americans, a few of whom are included in one illustration alongside the pale-skinned Judah. The author’s notes provide some added information about the benefactor’s family and his legacy.

A candid introduction to a little-known figure in Jewish American history. (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-4561-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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