This book includes a lengthy training guide from experienced bodyguards, but it may be the emus that children remember most.

BODYGUARDS!

FROM GLADIATORS TO THE SECRET SERVICE

It would be easy to say: “This book includes all the information you need to become a bodyguard.” But the real value of the book is that it contains information you don’t need at all.

According to Chapter 1, it was almost impossible to speak to the pharaoh of Egypt. One needed, Butts writes, “to make an appointment to see the priests’ secretary, to make an appointment to see the priests, to make an appointment to see the pharaoh.” Some authors would have ended the story there, but he lets it keep building: “First, the priests made you take a bath—maybe two or three of them.” The best reason to pick up this book is that every story has one more detail than is necessary. Chapter 6 mentions that geese, donkeys and llamas make good early warning systems because of their sensitive hearing. The next sentence points out that ostriches, emus and kangaroos are also effective. The comic strips that appear in each chapter, on the other hand, add nothing of value. They simply repeat facts from the pages around them, and the characters have such limited facial expression that the story is difficult to follow from panel to panel. Aside from ancient Egyptian priests and animals, other types of bodyguards mentioned include, among others, the Vatican’s Swiss Guard, Abraham Lincoln’s tippling police guard and Elvis’ Memphis Mafia. 

This book includes a lengthy training guide from experienced bodyguards, but it may be the emus that children remember most. (glossary, chronology, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55451-437-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

OIL

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...

TWO MEN AND A CAR

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AL CAPONE, AND A CADILLAC V-8

A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more