A pleasing visit with an occasionally—if justifiably—immodest world-changer.

BOOK

MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Book chattily narrates its memoir, as "transcribed" by Guyanese-English poet Agard.

From oral storytelling to e-books, Book provides a succinct overview of the past 5,000 years of its development. Referring to itself alternately in the third person and the first, it covers cuneiform, hieroglyphics, and the rise of alphabets, along with tracing the technological advances that took it from clay tablets through papyrus and parchment to paper and through scrolls to the codex. Though Book waxes lyrical about Western innovations ("I was flying on the wings of Gutenberg's movable type"), it takes pains to give credit to the many other cultures of the book, including the Aztecs, the Kashmiri, and the Chinese: "from Cai Lun's mushy mash, presto, paper was born." Packer's witty, black-and-white graphics complement Book's story, offering images that range widely, including botanical drawings of plants used in the making of paper and delicate towers of type. Occasional book-related quotations punctuate Book's account: from Emily Dickinson, Bertolt Brecht, Malorie Blackman, and others. It's a highly idiosyncratic account, and it's not a little twee—Book is not beyond self-aggrandizement—but for all its brevity, it covers a lot of territory accurately and with verve. Book includes a bibliography but not specific direction for readers who'd like to know more about, for instance, rotary presses or bookbinding.

A pleasing visit with an occasionally—if justifiably—immodest world-changer. (Nonfiction. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7236-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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Middle school worries and social issues skillfully woven into a moving, hopeful, STEM-related tale.

THE EXACT LOCATION OF HOME

Following the precise coordinates of geocaching doesn’t yield the treasure Kirby Zagonski Jr. seeks: his missing father.

Geeky eighth-grader Kirby can’t understand why his mother won’t call his dad after their generous landlady dies and they’re evicted for nonpayment of rent. Though his parents have been divorced for several years and his father, a wealthy developer, has been unreliable, Kirby is sure he could help. Instead he and his mother move to the Community Hospitality Center, a place “for the poor. The unfortunate. The homeless.” Suddenly A-student Kirby doesn’t have a quiet place to do his schoolwork or even a working pencil. They share a “family room” with a mother and young son fleeing abuse. Trying to hide this from his best friends, Gianna and Ruby, is a struggle, especially as they spend after-school hours together. The girls help him look for the geocaches visited by “Senior Searcher,” a geocacher Kirby is sure is his father. There are ordinary eighth-grade complications in this contemporary friendship tale, too; Gianna just might be a girlfriend, and there’s a dance coming up. Kirby’s first-person voice is authentic, his friends believable, and the adults both sometimes helpful and sometimes unthinkingly cruel. The setting is the largely white state of Vermont, but the circumstances could be anywhere.

Middle school worries and social issues skillfully woven into a moving, hopeful, STEM-related tale. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68119-548-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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A beautiful, powerful reflection on a tragic history.

ON THE HORIZON

In spare verse, Lowry reflects on moments in her childhood, including the bombings of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. 

When she was a child, Lowry played at Waikiki Beach with her grandmother while her father filmed. In the old home movie, the USS Arizona appears through the mist on the horizon. Looking back at her childhood in Hawaii and then Japan, Lowry reflects on the bombings that began and ended a war and how they affected and connected everyone involved. In Part 1, she shares the lives and actions of sailors at Pearl Harbor. Part 2 is stories of civilians in Hiroshima affected by the bombing. Part 3 presents her own experience as an American in Japan shortly after the war ended. The poems bring the haunting human scale of war to the forefront, like the Christmas cards a sailor sent days before he died or the 4-year-old who was buried with his red tricycle after Hiroshima. All the personal stories—of sailors, civilians, and Lowry herself—are grounding. There is heartbreak and hope, reminding readers to reflect on the past to create a more peaceful future. Lowry uses a variety of poetry styles, identifying some, such as triolet and haiku. Pak’s graphite illustrations are like still shots of history, adding to the emotion and somber feeling. He includes some sailors of color among the mostly white U.S. forces; Lowry is white.

A beautiful, powerful reflection on a tragic history. (author’s note, bibliography) (Memoir/poetry. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-12940-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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