Choppy storytelling doesn’t lessen the power or truth of the stories.



Shackleton works very hard to protect readers from the stories she’s presenting.

Each chapter of this graphic novel recounts the true experiences of a Jewish child who survived the Holocaust, and the stories, told by the survivors and edited by Shackleton, can be painful to read. Arek was nearly sent to a gas chamber at Birkenau and had to watch a girl being pulled away from her mother by the guards. But each chapter ends with the child living in a safe place. This is not to say that every chapter has a happy ending. One boy sees rockets exploding during an air raid. A girl named Suzanne finds shelter on a farm far out in the country and, ironically, doesn’t learn that the war has ended until two years after it’s over. But every segment concludes on a positive note, as in: “Suzanne was eventually rescued by the Red Cross and taken to live with her grandmother in…England.” This makes some sections of the book feel truncated, but readers may be grateful for the relief. Suzanne even ends up surrounded by farm animals in a truly lovely illustration. Whittingham’s character designs are inventive and, in their bleakest moments, resemble the animated sequences in Pink Floyd’s The Wall, which seems appropriate, since the book was inspired by animated films from the BBC.

Choppy storytelling doesn’t lessen the power or truth of the stories. (glossary, timeline, index, recommended websites) (Graphic nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8892-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Even pictures are better with pictures!



Art, architecture, history, and culture come together seamlessly in this comprehensive illustrated overview of Western art imported from France.

Even adults and older readers who think they know it all will be pleasantly surprised to find that there is something new to learn in this whimsically illustrated but exceptionally thorough survey. A frame story begins with a grandfather arriving in Paris to teach his two grandchildren art history. (All three are White.) Their questions and answers structure the narrative, which is divided into six sections: Prehistory, the Ancient Middle East and Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. Important ideas for each section are highlighted or presented in bold typeface, and the big ideas and key works are revisited with color photographs in the final pages of the book. This richly informative text has two particular winning points. First, it makes complete use of the comics format; more than just a clever illustrated story, it uses pictures to include diagrams, double-page timelines, asides, and illustrated examples, all of which allow for deeper understanding and some breaks in the often dense material. Secondly, it presents the history of Western art in sociopolitical and cultural context. This creates a smooth, continuous, robust historical narrative, giving readers access to not just what happened, but also the multiple reasons why and how.

Even pictures are better with pictures! (glossary, index) (Graphic nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4645-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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Readers with a less-than-burning interest may struggle…or find that interest kindled by the end.


A visual history of our planet’s long career as a nursery for living things.

A brown-skinned paleontologist in a lab coat patiently guides three chattering listeners through the ages from Earth’s fiery formation through climate and other geophysical changes to the present day’s “sixth period of mass extinction.” As she goes, she rolls out polysyllabic terms and nomenclature at a rate that may leave casual readers struggling to keep up but will undoubtedly elevate the pulses of devoted young STEM-winders. Side comments from her audience add common-language context (“The Carboniferous is the age of coal…” one says, while the other concludes, “…and also the age of roaches!”). Though blocks of narrative crowd Barman’s panels, her cartoon portraits of alien-looking sea life evolving first into extinct, pop-eyed plant eaters and toothy, slavering predators, then finally familiar creatures such as us, flesh out the fossil story in lighthearted but reasonably accurate detail. (“Lighthearted” except for one scene of a poached rhino with its horn bloodily removed, that is.) Animals hog the spotlight, and a specious claim that all stars have planets mars the closing vision of new kinds of life arising both on our own world and elsewhere. Still, this French import offers an overview as coherent as it is chronologically broad…particularly for readers not intimidated by encounters with plesiadapiforms, perissodactyls, Gomphoteria, and like sesquipedalia. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-15.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 77% of actual size.)

Readers with a less-than-burning interest may struggle…or find that interest kindled by the end. (partial glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 10-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4578-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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