NELLIE BLY'S MONKEY

A premise that splits the book's focus and a piece of artistic license that howls for revocation: The story of daredevil journalist and circumnavigator Nellie Bly is told by the monkey she bought en route to Singapore. A foreword by Blos (The Hungry Little Boy, 1995, etc.) places readers briefly in Bly's world; an afterword discusses sources; Stock adds pleasing, formally framed watercolors that evoke the era and locales. Readers join Bly—as the monkey, McGinty, does—mid- trip, which renders a less-than-global view of the 72-day tour. Bly's various crises and triumphs are flattened by McGinty's peculiarly unmonkeylike, Victorian narration. He confesses curiosity, but never exhibits it; title character he may be, but that doesn't save him from being dropped off at the zoo when Bly returns home, an act that will dismay readers. With all the excitement inherent to this tale (intrepid heroine! exotic scenery! race against time!), both the framing and telling of it result in a book that is about neither Bly nor her monkey. Disappointing. (Picture book. 5+)

Pub Date: March 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-688-12677-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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Readers of all ages will return to this again and again for its history, adventure, humor, and breathtaking homage to...

THE MAN WHO WALKED BETWEEN THE TOWERS

A spare recounting of Philippe Petit’s daring 1974 wire walk between the Twin Towers depicts him as a street performer who defies authority to risk his feat, is arrested, and then sentenced to perform for the children of New York.

At the conclusion, on the only non-illustrated page are the stark words, “Now the towers are gone,” followed by the changed skyline and finally by a skyline on which are etched the ghost-like shapes of the towers as memory of the buildings and of Petit’s exploit. At the heart are the spreads of Petit on the narrow wire, so far above the city that Earth’s curve is visible. Two ingenious gatefolds draw readers’ eyes into the vertiginous sweep of wirewalker—sky and city below. Unparalleled use of perspective and line—architectural verticals opposed to the curve of wires and earth—underscore disequilibrium and freedom. In a story that’s all about balance, the illustrations display it exquisitely in composition.

Readers of all ages will return to this again and again for its history, adventure, humor, and breathtaking homage to extraordinary buildings and a remarkable man. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5+)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 978-0-7613-1791-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2003

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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