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From the Who Did It First? series

This broad take on “firsts” is unusually rich in lesser-known figures and feats.

A crew of achievers, mostly of recent vintage, STEAMs up to provide inspiration and role modeling.

Leung includes outliers Isaac Newton and 18th-century professor Maria Gaetana Agnesi in her gallery, but she favors figures of the past two centuries—all of whom made at least some contribution in science, technology, engineering, the arts, or mathematics that can be classified a “first.” Seventeen of the profiles are just thumbnails, gathered into two inserted chapters; the others each receive a full-page tribute that focuses less on biographical detail than on the highlighted achievement. Some of the firsts are so hung about with qualifiers that they at least seem only marginally significant (Jennifer Yuh Nelson: “The first woman to solely direct an animated feature from a major Hollywood studio, 2011”). Most, however, merit huzzahs (Mary Golda Ross: “The first female engineer for Lockheed, 1942,” and a member of the Cherokee Nation to boot), and many are likely to be new to young readers. Each entry features a motivational quote or two, some of which occupy entire pages of their own, and, from Kuhwald, a stylized but easily recognizable portrait placed in an evocative setting. The roster earns high marks for diversity, as it includes 36 women and 20 people of color or who identify as Latinx.

This broad take on “firsts” is unusually rich in lesser-known figures and feats. (timeline, illustrator’s note, resource list) (Collective biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-21171-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Unassuming of aspect but judicious and illuminating of content.

Modest production values add appeal to this carefully researched account of “a life of courage, passion, and adventure.”

Young readers already have a plethora of Tubman titles to choose from, including the author’s own 1992 Picture Book of Harriet Tubman for younger readers, illustrated by Samuel Byrd. This one, though, offers an unusually coherent picture of her character as well as her place within both the major events of her times and the work of the Underground Railroad. Laying stress on her religious faith and her selfless nature, Adler covers her career as Union spy and nurse as well as “conductor” in deep-enough detail to make mention of her later involvement in a money swindle and her ambiguous relationship with “niece” (daughter? kidnap victim?) Margaret Stewart. Sheaves of small, period black-and-white portrait photos or engravings, plus occasional atrocity reports or editorials clipped from African-American newspapers give the pages a staid look overall. This is underscored by a typeface that, intentionally or otherwise, sometimes looks battered or too-lightly inked. Tubman’s exploits and struggles make absorbing reading nonetheless.

Unassuming of aspect but judicious and illuminating of content. (endnotes, bibliography, personal note about the author’s family in the Civil War) (Biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2365-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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A portrait of a courageous and admirable young voice for change—but no substitute for the book that is its major source.

A cursory introduction to the Pakistani teenager who earned international attention (and a Nobel Peace Prize nomination) after surviving a Taliban gunman’s assassination attempt.

Doeden draws largely from Yousafzai’s 2013 autobiography and a handful of news reports to craft his account. He explains how she, as the eldest daughter of a dedicated founder of girls schools in Pakistan and co-author (at the age of 11) of a personal blog sponsored by the BBC Urdu, became a public face for Muslim girls’ education—and therefore a Taliban target. Silenced only temporarily by a bullet to the head in 2012, she has gone on not only to become an even more vocal advocate for equal (not to say any) education, but to challenge President Barack Obama face to face about the use of military drones in her country. It’s a straightforward account geared to those who aren’t ready to tackle longer, richer resources. Most of the cramped color photos, and all of the unhelpful pull quotes, serve to fill space more than anything else.

A portrait of a courageous and admirable young voice for change—but no substitute for the book that is its major source. (map, endnotes, bibliography) (Biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-4907-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Lerner

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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