Woody Guthrie was arguably the greatest of American folk singers. Born in poverty and living most of his troubled life poor, he wrote over a thousand songs chronicling his journeys across Depression-era America. He wrote about the people he knew—the fellow wanderers, the migrant workers, hoboes, unionists, and the dispossessed in all walks of life. Always restless, rootless, and volatile, Guthrie never was able to settle down and make a marriage work, frequently leaving on unannounced trips across the country for weeks on end. Often dirty, smelly, and contentious, Guthrie was a hard friend. Yet his place in American music is secure, and this fascinating, new biography will introduce him to a new generation of readers. Beautifully designed and illustrated with over 70 black-and-white photographs, this well-written account is a fitting tribute to an American legend. Partridge, whose earlier work on Dorothea Lange (Restless Spirit, 1998) was equally powerful, portrays many of the rough and tragic sides of Guthrie’s life: the failed marriages, the “curse of fire,” the lack of responsibility in his personal life, and the tragedy of his final years, when he was hospitalized from 1954 until his death from Huntington’s disease in 1967. She also portrays the triumphs of his music career and offers the stories behind many of his most famous songs. Guthrie’s life spanned the Great Depression, WWII, the McCarthy era, and the early civil-rights movement. His work breathed new life into the folk-music movement, though the rise of folk music coincided with the decline in his health. At the end of this story, readers see 19-year-old Bob Dylan arriving to meet Woody and being inspired to carry on his work. Young readers will also be inspired—to see how Woody Guthrie achieved greatness, though the road he traveled was hard and troubled. A nice one-two punch with Bonnie Christensen’s recent picture book, Woody Guthrie: Poet of the People (2001). (author’s note, endnotes, index) (Nonfiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-670-03535-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Small but mighty necessary reading.


From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A gem from start to bittersweet finish.


Seventeen-year-old Valora Luck boards the Titanic in search of her twin brother—and destiny.

As children, Val and Jamie performed acrobatics to bring in money during lean times, dreaming of one day becoming circus stars. But after their White British mother’s death, Jamie left to work for the Atlantic Steam Company while Val stayed in London to care for their Chinese father. Now, with both parents gone, Val is determined to find what’s left of her family and forge a new path in America. There is, of course, the Chinese Exclusion Act to contend with, but Val is confident that she and Jamie can convince one of the ship’s passengers, a part owner of the Ringling Brothers Circus, to hire them and bring them into the country. Unexpected allies provide help along the way, including an American couture designer and Jamie’s fellow Chinese steamship workers. Issues of racial and class discrimination are seamlessly woven into the story as Val’s adventure takes her through the Titanic’s various decks, from a first-class suite to the boiler rooms. Her wit and pluck give the story such buoyancy that when tragedy strikes, it almost comes as a surprise. Anticipation of the inevitable adds a layer of tension to the narrative, especially with a sober note prefacing the book that informs readers, “Of the eight Chinese passengers aboard the Titanic, six survived.”

A gem from start to bittersweet finish. (Titanic diagram, list of characters, author's notes) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4098-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet