WINGS AND ROCKETS

THE STORY OF WOMEN IN AIR AND SPACE

Among the current proliferation of books about aviation due to the upcoming centennial (December 17, 2003) of the Wright brothers’ historic flight, here is one that finally focuses on women and their collective role and contributions. As the subtitle states, these stories profile ten women who challenged prejudices and rules, both written and unwritten, to take their place in the skies. The strength of this effort is the overall picture it composes as each chapter segues to the next, spinning a thread of continuity and mounting a history. The key word in the writing approach is “story,” as the author uses created dialogue to humanize these women, foreshortening the account and making each chapter almost anecdotal in style. Fifteen chapters are grouped into four parts: “Dreams and Beginnings” (Katharine Wright, Blanche Stuart Scott, Bessie Coleman); “First Women’s Cross-Country Air Race” (Amelia Earhart); “Friendships and War” (Jackie Cochran and WASPS); and “Women in Space.” Technically, Katharine Wright did not fly, but it’s appropriate to include her because her support enabled her brothers to do so. Serio-comic, half-tone illustrations match the breezy tone of the text. Back matter includes a two and a half page bibliography, six Web sites, a chronology of important years in women’s aviation, a brief description of 13 women by name, and an index. Atkins takes liberties with secondary details, but overall this narrative linear timeline emphasizes the significance of women as they pursued dreams, broke barriers, made headlines, and shaped aviation history proving that women could fly as well as men. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 3, 2003

ISBN: 0-374-38450-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of.

SCARED STIFF

50 PHOBIAS THAT FREAK US OUT

Part browsing item, part therapy for the afflicted, this catalog of irrational terrors offers a little help along with a lot of pop psychology and culture.

The book opens with a clinical psychologist’s foreword and closes with a chapter of personal and professional coping strategies. In between, Latta’s alphabetically arranged encyclopedia introduces a range of panic-inducers from buttons (“koumpounophobia”) and being out of cellphone contact (“nomophobia”) to more widespread fears of heights (“acrophobia”), clowns (“coulroiphobia”) and various animals. There’s also the generalized “social anxiety disorder”—which has no medical name but is “just its own bad self.” As most phobias have obscure origins (generally in childhood), similar physical symptoms and the same approaches to treatment, the descriptive passages tend toward monotony. To counter that, the author chucks in references aplenty to celebrity sufferers, annotated lists of relevant books and (mostly horror) movies, side notes on “joke phobias” and other topics. At each entry’s end, she contributes a box of “Scare Quotes” such as a passage from Coraline for the aforementioned fear of buttons.

Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of. (end notes, resource list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-936976-49-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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JAM!

THE STORY OF JAZZ MUSIC

A busy page design—artily superimposed text and photos, tinted portraits, and break-out boxes—and occasionally infelicitous writing (“Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie became . . . bandleader of the quintet at the Onyx Club, from which bebop got its name”) give this quick history of jazz a slapdash air, but Lee delves relatively deeply into the music’s direct and indirect African roots, then goes beyond the usual tedious tally of names to present a coherent picture of specific influences and innovations associated with the biggest names in jazz. A highly selective discography will give readers who want to become listeners a jump start; those seeking more background will want to follow this up with James Lincoln Collier’s Jazz (1997). (glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8239-1852-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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