Refreshingly unpredictable, if remarkably sloppy, opinionated, and a chancy choice for role models.


A diverse gallery of record breakers, envelope pushers, and activists, prominent or otherwise.

Journalist Megdal offers figures from, mostly, the present or recent past, each born in or at least loosely associated with a particular state. His selections show a distinct slant toward leftist reformers or people involved in social or environmental causes. Some, notably Muhammad Ali (Kentucky), Rachel Carson (Pennsylvania), and Jackie Robinson (Georgia), are necessary fixtures on any such roster, but many—for example, Joe Biden (Delaware), Social Democrat Michael Harrington (Missouri), and the All-American Red Heads (Arkansas), an early women’s basketball team—seem more personal choices. No small number are just odd, such as William Allen White, a Kansas newspaper publisher billed as “the figure small town America needs today,” and Marjorie van Vliet (Rhode Island), who tried to fly to all the lower 48 state capitols for peace in 1990 but died in a crash before reaching the final one. The trailblazers are presented on hard-to-parse spreads composed of kaleidoscopically contrasting color blocks, each containing a few lines of narrative, a quote, or a stylized illustration done in a flat, serigraphic style. Along with occasional snort-inducing errors (though none so hilarious as a map with LBJ’s home state, Texas, labeled “Michigan”), a quirky company of achievers that includes 22 figures of Latinx, Native, or African American descent, and, counting the Red Heads, more women than men, will greet readers willing to stay the course. Shorter profiles of 16 more luminaries at the end expand the roster.

Refreshingly unpredictable, if remarkably sloppy, opinionated, and a chancy choice for role models. (index) (Collective biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-967-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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The author of the justly renowned What the Neighbors Thought series digs a little deeper with these equally engaging single...


From the Women Who Broke the Rules series

This brisk and pithy series kickoff highlights Sacagawea’s unique contributions to the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Joining her “clueless” French-Canadian husband and so becoming “part of one of the smartest hiring decisions in history,” 16-year-old Sacagawea not only served as translator and diplomat along the way, but proved an expert forager, cool-headed when disaster threatened, and a dedicated morale booster during four gloomy months in winter quarters. She also cast a vote for the location of those quarters, which the author points to as a significant precedent in the history of women’s suffrage. Krull closes with a look at her subject’s less-well-documented later life and the cogent observation that not all Native Americans regard her in a positive light. In Collins’ color paintings, she poses gracefully in fringed buckskins, and her calm, intelligent features shine on nearly every page. The subjects of the three co-published profiles, though depicted by different illustrators, look similarly smart and animated—and behave that way too. Having met her future husband on a “date,” Dolley Madison (illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher) goes on to be a “rock star,” for instance. Long before she becomes a Supreme Court justice with a “ginormous” work load, Sonia Sotomayor (illustrated by Angela Dominguez) is first met giving her little brother a noogie. Though Krull’s gift for artfully compressed narrative results in a misleading implication that the battle of New Orleans won the War of 1812 for the United States, and there is no mention of Forever… in her portrait of “the most banned author in America,” Judy Blume (illustrated by David Leonard), young readers will come away properly inspired by the examples of these admirable rule-breakers.

The author of the justly renowned What the Neighbors Thought series digs a little deeper with these equally engaging single volumes. (source and reading lists, indexes) (Biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8027-3799-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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A case study of science at its idealistic and paradigm-changing best.



A handsomely designed tribute to the brilliant naturalist who very nearly scooped Darwin.

It was “a case of great minds thinking alike,” Dorion writes. But while Darwin had slowly, cautiously articulated his hypotheses to himself over decades in his country home, they came as flashes of insight to Wallace in the course of scouring the jungles of the Amazon and the Malay Archipelago for exotic specimens to sell to European collectors. It was Wallace’s 1858 letter to Darwin that spurred the latter to go public—and Wallace’s salutary lack of ego that turned what might have been a bitter battle over claims of precedence into a long and cordial relationship. Though the author skimps on Wallace’s later career and misleadingly tags the heart of his proposed theory as “natural selection” (that was Darwin’s term, not Wallace’s), she offers clear pictures of his character and his passion for natural science while making generous use of direct quotations. Tennant gives the slightly oversized volume the feel of a collector’s album with ranks of accurately drawn tropical beetles, birds, and other specimens. These he intersperses with portraits of eminent colleagues, images of collecting gear, and verdant scenes of the white explorer at work either alone or with one or more Indigenous assistants (the latter only sometimes identified, or even mentioned, in the narrative).

A case study of science at its idealistic and paradigm-changing best. (map, glossary, reading list) (Picture book/biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0932-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick Studio

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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