Frederick Law Olmsted was born in Hartford, Conn., in 1822. He was an intelligent and ambitious man whose many interests made it hard for him to settle on a career. Although his family was supportive and understanding, it was also large, and Olmsted's father could not afford to bankroll his eldest son forever. So Olmsted tried a number of different kinds of work: His love of nature caused him to take up farming; his concern for the urban poor and for black slaves led him to a brief career in writing; his administrative skills won him an appointment with the US Sanitary Commission during the Civil War. Olmsted was good, and occasionally successful, at these pursuits, but he had trouble finding the field—landscape architecture—that combined his many interests because it did not yet exist. (Olmsted and his sometime partner, Calvert Vaux, coined the term.) When New York City planned to create a public park, Olmsted was hired first as superintendent of the project and then architect-in-chief, after he and Vaux won first prize for their park design. Creating the park was a long and taxing job, but Olmsted loved it. Central Park today looks very much like Olmsted and Vaux's design. Olmsted went on to create more public parks and restore and preserve natural landscapes, like Niagara Falls. He died in 1903. Dunlap's (Aldo Leopold, not reviewed) biography is absorbing and readable. (Biography. 8-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 1994

ISBN: 0-87614-824-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1994



Prose poems celebrate the feats of young heroines, some of them famous, and some not as well-known. Paul (Hello Toes! Hello Feet!, 1998, etc.) recounts moments in the lives of women such as Rachel Carson, Amelia Earhart, and Wilma Rudolph; these moments don’t necessarily reflect what made them famous as much as they are pivotal events in their youth that influenced the direction of their lives. For Earhart, it was sliding down the roof of the tool shed in a home-made roller coaster: “It’s like flying!” For Rudolph, it was the struggle to learn to walk without her foot brace. Other women, such as Violet Sheehy, who rescued her family from a fire in Hinckley, Minnesota, or Harriet Hanson, a union supporter in the fabric mills of Massachusetts, are celebrated for their brave decisions made under extreme duress. Steirnagle’s sweeping paintings powerfully exude the strength of character exhibited by these young women. A commemorative book, that honors both quiet and noisy acts of heroism. (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-201477-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999



Ringgold’s biography of Rosa Parks packs substantial material into a few pages, but with a light touch, and with the ring of authenticity that gives her act of weary resistance all the respect it deserves. Narrating the book is the bus that Parks took that morning 45 years ago; it recounts the signal events in Parks’s life to a young girl who boarded it to go to school. A decent amount of the material will probably be new to children, for Parks is so intimately associated with the Montgomery Bus Boycott that her work with the NAACP before the bus incident is often overlooked, as is her later role as a community activist in Detroit with Congressman John Conyers. Ringgold, through the bus, also informs readers of Parks’s youth in rural Alabama, where Klansmen and nightriders struck fear into the lives of African-Americans. These experiences make her refusal to release her seat all the more courageous, for the consequences of resistance were not gentle. All the events are depicted in emotive naive artwork that underscores their truth; Ringgold delivers Parks’s story without hyperbole, but rather as a life lived with pride, conviction, and consequence. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-81892-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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