Art history specialists Greenberg and Jordan (Chuck Close, Up Close, 1998, etc.) unite again for an exciting, free wheeling mix of biography and architectural primer, taking readers from the outside to inside the life and work of the acclaimed yet controversial bad boy of international architecture—Frank O. Gehry. Now in his early 70s, he gained international recognition in 1997 when his astounding Guggenheim Museum opened in Bilbao, Spain. That building, with its springy titanium skin and unorthodox organic form (in which “hardly a straight line exists”), has transformed a small Basque city into an international destination with over one million visitors a year. More important, the computer-assisted and truly space-age design (using software originally used in the French aerospace industry) of this “silver dream machine” has changed the practice of architecture—utterly. Gehry’s work is playful, curvilinear, and site-specific, incorporating an unorthodox mix of unconventional space-age materials like highly reflective titanium as well as glass, steel, and limestone. Acknowledging that “life is chaotic” he makes buildings that reflect it. Projects explored include: the “shocking” renovation of his own Santa Monica tract house (featuring metal, chain-link fence, and unpainted plywood); furniture designs realized in corrugated cardboard and wood laminates; Colorcore fish lamps; the “binoculars”-shaped building in Venice, California; and the arresting towers in Prague known as “Fred and Ginger . . . as if one tower were a dancer being spun by another.” Oversized and handsome, the book’s design communicates volumes; it’s an eclectic mix of fonts and colors, enlivened with ghost images, sidebars, drawings, and photos. (glossary, bibliography, list of building locations) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7894-2677-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2000


A pleasing new picture book looks at George Washington’s career through an agricultural lens. Sprinkling excerpts from his letters and diaries throughout to allow its subject to speak in his own voice, the narrative makes a convincing case for Washington’s place as the nation’s First Farmer. His innovations, in addition to applying the scientific method to compost, include a combination plow-tiller-harrow, the popularization of the mule and a two-level barn that put horses to work at threshing grain in any weather. Thomas integrates Washington’s military and political adventures into her account, making clear that it was his frustration as a farmer that caused him to join the revolutionary cause. Lane’s oil illustrations, while sometimes stiff, appropriately portray a man who was happiest when working the land. Backmatter includes a timeline, author’s notes on both Mount Vernon and Washington the slaveholder, resources for further exploration and a bibliography. (Picture book/biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59078-460-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008


A mighty portrait of poverty amid cruelty and optimism.

Recounting his childhood experiences in sixth grade, Ogle’s memoir chronicles the punishing consequences of poverty and violence on himself and his family.

The start of middle school brings about unwanted changes in young Rex’s life. His old friendships devolve as his school friends join the football team and slowly edge him out. His new English teacher discriminates against him due to his dark skin (Rex is biracial, with a white absentee dad and a Mexican mom) and secondhand clothes, both too large and too small. Seemingly worse, his mom enrolls him in the school’s free-lunch program, much to his embarrassment. “Now everyone knows I’m nothing but trailer trash.” His painful home life proffers little sanctuary thanks to his mom, who swings from occasional caregiver to violent tyrant at the slightest provocation, and his white stepdad, an abusive racist whose aggression outrivals that of Rex’s mom. Balancing the persistent flashes of brutality, Ogle magnificently includes sprouts of hope, whether it’s the beginnings of a friendship with a “weird” schoolmate, joyful moments with his younger brother, or lessons of perseverance from Abuela. These slivers of relative levity counteract the toxic relationship between young Rex, a boy prone to heated outbursts and suppressed feelings, and his mother, a fully three-dimensional character who’s viciously thrashing against the burden of poverty. It’s a fine balance carried by the author’s outstanding, gracious writing and a clear eye for the penetrating truth.

A mighty portrait of poverty amid cruelty and optimism. (author’s note, author Q&A, discussion guide, writing guide, resources) (Memoir. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-324-00360-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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