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From the All About America series

Shot through with vague generalities and paired to a mix of equally generic period images and static new art, this overview remorselessly sucks all the juice from its topic.

This survey of the growth of industries in this country from the Colonial period to the post–World War II era is written in the driest of textbook-ese: “Factories needed good transportation so that materials could reach them and so that materials could reach buyers”; “The metal iron is obtained by heating iron ore”; “In 1860, the North said that free men, not slaves, should do the work.” This text is supplemented by a jumble of narrative-overview blocks, boxed side observations and terse captions on each thematic spread. The design is packed with overlapping, misleadingly seamless and rarely differentiated mixes of small, heavily trimmed contemporary prints or (later) photos and drab reconstructions of workshop or factory scenes, along with pictures of significant inventions and technological innovations (which are, in several cases, reduced to background design elements). The single, tiny map has no identifying labels. Other new entries in the All About America series deal similarly with Explorers, Trappers, and Pioneers, A Nation of Immigrants and Stagecoaches and Railroads. Utilitarian, at best—but more likely to dim reader interest than kindle it. (index, timeline, resource lists) (Nonfiction. 8-10)


Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7534-6670-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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A loving homage to the last baseball clown.

Max Patkin had a very long and rewarding career in baseball, but it wasn’t in the way he originally planned.

He was a good-enough pitcher to earn a place in the minor leagues. In 1942 he was sidelined by an injury and joined the Navy. After surgery he was good to go: to Hawaii to play baseball with other professional players as a way of entertaining the troops. He played with and against the likes of Pee Wee Reese and Joe DiMaggio. When DiMaggio hit a very long home run against him, Max followed him around the bases, mimicking his motions and garnering laughs and cheers from players and spectators. After the war he played in the minors again, but injuries ended his playing days. But his comic routines were remembered, and he was asked to perform at exhibition games all over the country. Everyone seemed to love his over-the-top slapstick and hilarious performances. Vernick displays warm affection for Patkin, describing his antics in amusing anecdotes that are followed by quoting his signature line, “True Story!” Bower’s colorful cartoons manage to capture the essence of Max’s goofy appearance and all-out efforts to elicit every bit of fun he could invent in the game he loved so much. It was a different time.

A loving homage to the last baseball clown. (author’s note, sources) (Picture book/ biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-81377-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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From the Epic Fails series , Vol. 1

It may not be epic, but this is certainly one launch that fails to get off the ground.

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try and try and try.

In a series launch bent on showing how failure may be instructive, Thompson and Slader turn the story of the Wright Brothers into an amusing, bite-sized history lesson. History’s early flight fiascos and successes are recounted, culminating in Orville and Wilbur Wright’s. Over the years they would experiment, fail, learn from their mistakes, tinker, fail, and tenaciously pursue their dreams until they succeeded. Alas, troubles dog this well-intentioned series opener. An early statement that “It would seem that before man would learn to fly, he’d have to learn how to fall” prefaces a book that ignores the contributions (and failures) of such early women aeronauts as Sophie Blanchard. In a section on ballooning, a statement that the novel Around the World in Eighty Days was “about circling the globe in a hot air balloon” is incorrect (no ballooning occurs in that book). Attempts to appeal to child readers today yield awkward sentences that describe the brothers as “steampunk hipsters at Comic-Con” wrestling with the controls of the plane “like trying to play a multiplayer computer game with a really bad Internet connection.” Artist Foley renders the text accessible with his lively pen-and-ink drawings, but they are too little, too late.

It may not be epic, but this is certainly one launch that fails to get off the ground. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-15055-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Flash Point/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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