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 nail-biting survival tale.

DEEP WATER

A STORY OF SURVIVAL

Twelve-year-old Julie supervises an important dive for her father’s scuba-diving business, but she soon learns that when you play against Mother Nature it is for keeps.

During the school year, Julie lives with her mother in Atlanta, but her summers are spent with her father in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Unfortunately, although her mother’s law career is taking off, her father’s dive business is struggling. When a wealthy businessman and his arrogant son, Shane, demand to see the artificial reef her father owns, the money is just too important to turn down. Her father, a diabetic, decides Julie should run the dive, so when the anchor pulls, leaving the three of them lost at sea, it is up to Julie to do what she can to save them all. But sharks, hypothermia, dehydration, and exposure might prove more than she can handle. Inspired by a diving accident the author himself experienced, this is a gritty look at what can happen when everything goes wrong. Julie is arrogant and fearful, but she’s also strong and quick-thinking. Shane likewise evolves during the ordeal, but it is the beautiful, terrible, and dangerous Mother Nature who steals the show. Julie is depicted as white on the cover, and the book seems to adhere to the white default.

A nail-biting survival tale. (Adventure. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-30654-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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