This lighthearted overview may well lead readers to further research.

READ REVIEW

ALL THE DIRT

A HISTORY OF GETTING CLEAN

Nine illustrated chapters loosely trace the various ways cultures around the world have dealt with keeping their bodies clean—or not.

The introductory chapter, “Eight Myths About ‘Clean,’ ” includes such clever hooks as a warning to the squeamish about references to “poop, bodily fluids...and other shocking subjects.” Indeed, the text abounds with such tidbits as the propensity of rats to nibble on gentlemen’s unwashed wigs. The chapter on “Ancient Grime” briefly summarizes The Odyssey, using it to discuss the importance of washing and bathing in 12th century B.C.E. Sidebars tell of bathing in the Indus Valley in 3,000 B.C.E., as well as washing habits in ancient Egypt and China, while the primary narrative then revisits Greece (including Athens versus Sparta) and introduces Roman baths. (Readers may find Ashenburg’s alternation of dates and centuries confusing as they navigate this nonlinear history.) The text successfully shows the influences of religion, class distinctions, geography, individual thinkers, and advertising on cleanliness behaviors throughout centuries and over most continents, ending with current practices in Canada and the U.S.—including the ongoing debate about antibacterial products. Colorful pages brim with sidebar anecdotes related to bathhouses, soap, toilets, and surprised international travelers. There are some liberties taken to keep the text simple and accessible, but the myth-shattering is well-documented.

This lighthearted overview may well lead readers to further research. (sources, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55451-790-9

Page Count: 108

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Despite its not insignificant flaws, this book provides insights into the lives of important women, many of whom have...

SHE DID IT!

21 WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE WAY WE THINK

Caldecott Medalist McCully delves into the lives of extraordinary American women.

Beginning with the subject of her earlier biography Ida M. Tarbell (2014), McCully uses a chronological (by birth year) structure to organize her diverse array of subjects, each of whom is allotted approximately 10 pages. Lovely design enhances the text with a full-color portrait of each woman and small additional illustrations in the author/illustrator’s traditional style, plenty of white space, and spare use of dynamic colors. This survey provides greater depth than most, but even so, some topics go troublingly uncontextualized to the point of reinforcing stereotype: “In slavery, Black women had been punished for trying to improve their appearance. Now that they were free, many cared a great deal about grooming”; “President Roosevelt ordered all Japanese Americans on the West Coast to report to internment camps to keep them from providing aid to the enemy Japanese forces.” Of the 21 surveyed, one Japanese-American woman (Patsy Mink) is highlighted, as are one Latinx woman (Dolores Huerta), one Mohegan woman (Gladys Tantaquidgeon), three black women (Madam C.J. Walker, Ella Baker, and Shirley Chisholm), four out queer white women (Billie Jean King, Barbara Gittings, Jane Addams, and Isadora Duncan; the latter two’s sexualities are not discussed), two Jewish women (Gertrude Berg and Vera Rubin), and three women with known disabilities (Addams, Dorothea Lange, and Temple Grandin).

Despite its not insignificant flaws, this book provides insights into the lives of important women, many of whom have otherwise yet to be featured in nonfiction for young readers. (sources) (Collective biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-01991-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...

TWO MEN AND A CAR

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AL CAPONE, AND A CADILLAC V-8

A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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