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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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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Uneven pacing and clunky writing undermine this examination of trauma and PTSD.

IF WE WERE GIANTS

Matthews, of the Dave Matthews Band, and co-author Smith offer a fantasy that explores the damage done by violence inflicted by one people against another.

Ten-year-old Kirra lives in an idyllic community hidden for generations inside a dormant volcano. When she and her little brother make unwise choices that help bring the violent, spindly, gray-skinned Takers to her community—with devastating results—Kirra feels responsible and leaves the volcano. Four years later, Kirra’s been adopted into a family of Tree Folk that live in the forest canopy. Though there are many Tree Folk, individual families care for their own and are politely distant from others. Kirra, suffering from (unnamed) PTSD, evades her traumatic memories by avoiding what she calls “Memory Traps,” but when the Takers arrive in the forest, she must face her trauma and attempt to make a community of the Tree Folk if they’re to survive. Although Kirra’s struggles through trauma are presented with sympathy and realistically rendered, some characters’ choices are so patently foolish they baldly read like the plot devices they are. Additionally, much preparation goes into one line of defense while other obvious factors are completely ignored, further pushing the story’s credibility. Kirra is brown skinned, as is her first family; Tree Folk appear not to be racially homogenous; and the Takers are all gray skinned.

Uneven pacing and clunky writing undermine this examination of trauma and PTSD. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4847-7871-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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