Exhilarating—as well as hilarious, enraging, or both at once depending on the reader.

How women got mad, busy, and finally, reluctantly, accepted into NASA’s corps of astronauts.

Recast by the creators of Primates (2013) from NASA oral-history interviews with ex-astronaut Mary Cleave and other eyewitnesses, this likewise lightly fictionalized memoir takes its narrator from childhood interests in science and piloting aircraft to two space shuttle missions and then on to later educational and administrative roles. The core of the tale is a frank and funny account of how women shouldered their way into NASA’s masculine culture and as astronaut trainees broke it down by demonstrating that they too had both the competencies and the toughness that added up to the right stuff. Highlighted by a vivid series of scenes showing Cleave with a monkey on her chest, then a chimpanzee, an orangutan, a gorilla, and finally a larger gorilla to symbolize the G-forces of liftoff, Wicks offers cleanly drawn depictions of technical gear, actual training exercises, eye-rolling encounters with sexist reporters and clueless NASA engineers, iconic figures (such as a group portrait of the watershed astronaut class of 1978: “Twenty-six white guys and nine…well…people who were not. Pretty diverse for NASA”), and astronauts at work on the ground and in space. They capture both the heady thrill of space travel and the achievements of those who led the way there.

Exhilarating—as well as hilarious, enraging, or both at once depending on the reader. (afterword, print and web resources) (Informational graphic novel. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-877-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019



From the Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series

A neatly coherent account with tweaks that allow readers some emotional distance—but not enough to shrug off the war’s...

In the latest of his Hazardous Tales (One Dead Spy, 2012, etc.), Hale recaps World War I with an all-animal cast.

Any similarities to Art Spiegelman’s Maus are doubtless coincidental. Per established series formula, a frame tale finds the author’s more-renowned namesake holding off the hangman, Scheherazade-like, with tales from our country’s future history. In this volume, he covers the war’s prelude, precipitation, major campaigns and final winding down in small but reasonably easy-to-follow two-color panels. At the hangman’s request, narrator Hale both tucks in a few jokes and transforms the opposing armies into animal-headed soldiers—from Gallic roosters and British bulldogs to, as “eagle” was already taken by the Germans, American bunnies. Despite lightening the load in this manner and shying away from explicit brutality, Hale cogently conveys the mind-numbing scale of it all as well as the horrors of trench warfare. He presents with equal ease the strategic and tactical pictures, technological innovations from poison gas to tanks, and related developments such as the Russian Revolution. After the cease fire, which he attributes more to exhaustion than battlefield victory, he closes with a summary of the war’s human toll and geopolitical changes.

A neatly coherent account with tweaks that allow readers some emotional distance—but not enough to shrug off the war’s devastating cost and world-changing effects. (bibliography) (Graphic nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0808-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014



An unusually personal view of World War I’s early days, conveyed by new illustrations grafted to a French soldier’s chance-found diary.

Dated Aug. 3 to Sept. 5, 1914, the anonymous diary tersely records mustering, train rides, weary marches, efforts to scrounge up provisions and billeting, much digging of trenches, and advances and retreats under enemy artillery fire. Aside from occasional thoughts of family left behind, the writer’s observations are detached in tone—even gruesome sights of a human leg caught in a tree and heavily wounded patients in a hospital ward are only noted in passing. Along with portraying how he rescued the account from a pile of curbside rubbish, Barroux illustrates the diary with large panels of heavy-lined drawings made with butcher’s pencil and a pale yellow varnish wash. Most depict somber figures in uniform, drawn with geometrical noses that give them the look of puppets or mannequins, trudging through sheets of rain or sketched rural settings. The diary’s abrupt end leaves the writer wounded but complaining of boredom as he recuperates; the artist closes with sample pages from a handwritten album of songs found with the document. In a passionate introductory note, Michael Morpurgo invites readers to “weep” over these glimpses of war. American children, at least, may not shed many tears, but they should come away feeling closer to understanding what that century-old conflict must have been like to those who fought in it. (Graphic memoir. 11-14)


Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-907912-39-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Phoenix/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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