In bringing an important life back into the conversation during divided political times, this book spotlights a steadfast...

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MARTÍ'S SONG FOR FREEDOM / MARTÍ Y SUS VERSOS POR LA LIBERTAD

Weaving in work from poet and Cuban freedom fighter José Martí, Otheguy presents a sensitive portrayal of the revolutionary.

Told in stanzas paired alongside Domínguez’s Spanish translation, Martí’s life story faces detailed, evocative full-page paintings, some painful (Martí witnessed the horrors of slavery), others celebratory. While the pale-skinned Cuban’s life contained many contradictions and political subtleties, the book focuses on Martí’s love of country and ties it in not only to his writing work, but to a more literal love of a homeland: his affinity for nature that continued even when he lived in the United States in exile. “In the Catskills, José splashed in the waterfalls, / hiked through the helecho, / the ferns that lined the paths, / and admired the thick bark of the oak trees,” Otheguy writes. If the text sometimes feels workmanlike, it’s only because the included bits of Martí’s poetry are so strong and searing. “I’ve seen the wounded eagle / Fly to the clear blue sky, / And I’ve seen the snake lie dying / From its own poison, alone in its lair.” While it doesn’t paint the most detailed picture of who Martí was as a person, it conveys enough of his fervent belief in Cuba’s independence and where those beliefs took him in life to make up for that.

In bringing an important life back into the conversation during divided political times, this book spotlights a steadfast hero and brilliant writer still worth admiring today. (Picture book/biography. 7-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-89239-375-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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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

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What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable...

THE BRAVE CYCLIST

THE TRUE STORY OF A HOLOCAUST HERO

An extraordinary athlete was also an extraordinary hero.

Gino Bartali grew up in Florence, Italy, loving everything about riding bicycles. After years of studying them and years of endurance training, he won the 1938 Tour de France. His triumph was muted by the outbreak of World War II, during which Mussolini followed Hitler in the establishment of anti-Jewish laws. In the middle years of the conflict, Bartali was enlisted by a cardinal of the Italian church to help Jews by becoming a document courier. His skill as a cyclist and his fame helped him elude capture until 1944. When the war ended, he kept his clandestine efforts private and went on to win another Tour de France in 1948. The author’s afterword explains why his work was unknown. Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum, honored him as a Righteous Among the Nations in 2013. Bartali’s is a life well worth knowing and well worthy of esteem. Fedele’s illustrations in mostly dark hues will appeal to sports fans with their action-oriented scenes. Young readers of World War II stories will gain an understanding from the somber wartime pages.

What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable springboard. (photograph, select bibliography, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68446-063-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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