Kids with queer interests deserve better.



A brisk stroll down the road of LGBTQ+ history, primarily in the United States and Europe.

Lawson and Knight guide readers through a starry-eyed examination of queer history. The work is divided into 23 four-page chapters. Each begins with a full-page spread of bold artwork and an introductory sentence or two, which are followed by two pages of text discussing the chapter’s theme. Although the book introduces international movements and icons—Frida Kahlo, Margaret Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa, prime minister of Iceland Jóhanna Siguðardóttir—the history targets the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The text also stops with President Barack Obama’s term, excluding his successor’s strong anti-transgender and anti-queer policies. Within the text, the facts are presented somewhat breezily; Mead’s book is mentioned as being published “in the late 1920s” instead of noting 1928 as the publication year. The vibrant illustrations are presented without captions or even context, doing little to enhance or support the text. Readers already familiar with queer history may recognize Marlene Dietrich, Venus Xtravaganza, or Grace Jones, but readers new to the topic may be left frustrated. The backmatter includes a timeline, glossary, and spotty index; Venus Xtravaganza, although pictured and mentioned, is not listed, for instance, while Hector Xtravaganza (also mentioned) is.

Kids with queer interests deserve better. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62371-952-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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



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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Spy fans and cryptographers will seek this one out.


From the Spy on History series

A strong main character and an engaging story make for a revolutionary read.

The career of Anna Strong occupies a fascinating footnote in American history. Was she merely a farmer’s wife, or was she a member of one of the most daring spy rings in our country’s history? The pseudonymous author presents a fictionalized version of Anna’s life in the third volume of the Spy on History series. The examination begins during the throes of the American Revolution. After Anna’s husband is imprisoned and then freed, thanks to Anna’s family connections, and returns to patriot-controlled Connecticut, Anna is pulled into a plot to signal a fellow patriot and pass along information. The plan is simple: Anna uses a black petticoat and a series of handkerchiefs to relay a meeting place. “Alberti” pulls readers into the chaos of Anna’s life (and the war) through an omniscient narrator that documents Anna’s movements over the next year. Astute readers will also realize the dangers women faced from soldiers (and fellow countrymen) during this period. Terry’s loose, two-color illustrations depict an all-white cast and provide an additional sense of movement to the text. The trade edition includes a "Spycraft Kit" in the form of an enclosed envelope with inserts for solving a final coded mystery; the library edition publishes without these inclusions for ease of circulation. Backmatter explains the history of the Culper Spy Ring and its role in exposing Gen. Benedict Arnold.

Spy fans and cryptographers will seek this one out. (historical note, answers, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0216-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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