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From the Women Who Broke the Rules series

The author of the justly renowned What the Neighbors Thought series digs a little deeper with these equally engaging single...

This brisk and pithy series kickoff highlights Sacagawea’s unique contributions to the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Joining her “clueless” French-Canadian husband and so becoming “part of one of the smartest hiring decisions in history,” 16-year-old Sacagawea not only served as translator and diplomat along the way, but proved an expert forager, cool-headed when disaster threatened, and a dedicated morale booster during four gloomy months in winter quarters. She also cast a vote for the location of those quarters, which the author points to as a significant precedent in the history of women’s suffrage. Krull closes with a look at her subject’s less-well-documented later life and the cogent observation that not all Native Americans regard her in a positive light. In Collins’ color paintings, she poses gracefully in fringed buckskins, and her calm, intelligent features shine on nearly every page. The subjects of the three co-published profiles, though depicted by different illustrators, look similarly smart and animated—and behave that way too. Having met her future husband on a “date,” Dolley Madison (illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher) goes on to be a “rock star,” for instance. Long before she becomes a Supreme Court justice with a “ginormous” work load, Sonia Sotomayor (illustrated by Angela Dominguez) is first met giving her little brother a noogie. Though Krull’s gift for artfully compressed narrative results in a misleading implication that the battle of New Orleans won the War of 1812 for the United States, and there is no mention of Forever… in her portrait of “the most banned author in America,” Judy Blume (illustrated by David Leonard), young readers will come away properly inspired by the examples of these admirable rule-breakers.

The author of the justly renowned What the Neighbors Thought series digs a little deeper with these equally engaging single volumes. (source and reading lists, indexes) (Biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8027-3799-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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Engaging episodes, not beyond the ken of the current generation and lit with just enough sentiment to give them a warm glow.

A second set of childhood memories from the author of Marshfield Dreams (2005)—these spun around the feeling of being an “in-betweener” in his family as eldest of eight (later nine) siblings.

Fletcher opens with an elaborate neighborhood map (“Marshfield was my Middle-earth,” he writes) and goes on in short chapters to recall the pleasures—and sometimes tribulations—of being a Boy Scout, playing marbles, joining a muddy scramble to gather a bucket full of frogs, having the house to himself for a day, getting a pocket transistor radio, and like treasured moments around age 10. Other memories, such as learning that a Sunday school acquaintance who shared his love for chocolate Necco Wafers had died and seeing his school bus driver Ruben Gonsalves silently watch his son get slapped (wondering since if the 1964 incident would have even happened in his “white town…but for the color of their skin”), spark more complex responses. In an epilogue he tallies other less halcyon memories, capped by the later death of a brother covered in greater detail in the previous volume. Still, like the mock funeral his friends gave him when he and his family moved away from Marshfield, readers will find these reminiscences “sad, funny, a little weird, and very sweet.”

Engaging episodes, not beyond the ken of the current generation and lit with just enough sentiment to give them a warm glow. (Memoir. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62779-524-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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From the Discovering History's Heroes series

Serviceable but sparkless.

A profile of Apollo 11’s pilot as a hero who “just did his job.”

Buckley’s account is shot through with references to working, having jobs to do, and tackling “chore after chore.” It covers Collins’ test-pilot and astronaut trainings, his experiences in space both in Gemini 10 and as the third man aboard Apollo 11 (where, at times, in lunar orbit, “he was the most isolated person in human history”), plus later gigs as writer, artist, and Smithsonian administrator. Though pointedly noting that NASA didn’t hire an astronaut of color until 1967 nor a woman until 1978, the author generally steers clear of controversy, even quoting Armstrong’s line as “That’s one small step for a man” without comment. He also presupposes so little prior knowledge from his intended audience that along with minimizing technical details he feels compelled to explain who Adam and Charlie Brown are. With the lack of illustrations further distancing modern readers from events, the resulting narrative reads as a bland tribute, particularly next to Bea Uusma Schyffert’s lively The Man Who Went to the Far Side of the Moon (2003) and Collins’ own memoir for younger readers, Flying to the Moon and Other Strange Places (1976; republished in 2019 as Flying to the Moon: An Astronaut’s Story).

Serviceable but sparkless. (endnotes, bibliography) (Biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2480-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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