ELIZABETH I, THE PEOPLE'S QUEEN

HER LIFE AND TIMES, 24 ACTIVITIES

From the For Kids series

Biographical narrative combines with activities to bring good Queen Bess to life, with mixed results.

Queen Elizabeth’s reign, like Shakespeare’s theater, was high drama, and during that reign the tiny island nation of England rose in stature among world powers. It was the Age of Exploration, the era of the Reformation, a time of drama in politics, in the church and on the high seas. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, but the king longed for a boy, an heir to the throne, and Henry’s divorces and multiple marriages in pursuit of a male heir caused much political and religious unrest. Elizabeth’s 45-year reign, though, was long and strong, as she made little England a military power and cultural giant. Billed as an “interactive biography,” this attractive entry in the For Kids series offers 21 activities to supplement the text and provide a sense of what Elizabethan England was all about, but there is a disconnect between the challenging, dense historical narrative and the activities, which include carving turnips, dancing courtly dances, singing madrigals and munching on marzipan. The many illustrations, maps, sidebars and the descriptions of activities accomplish what the text, as well written as it is, may not, by enlivening the volume and offering parents and teachers a way to make the era come alive.

A very qualified success.   (timeline, bibliography, index) (Biography. 9 & up)

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56976-349-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

From the They Did What? series

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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Humble, endearing and utterly easy to relate to; don’t miss this one.

THE DUMBEST IDEA EVER!

The charismatic creator of the Eisner-nominated Amelia Rules! series recounts his beginnings as a cartoonist.

From the very first panel, Gownley’s graphic memoir is refreshingly different. He’s not the archetypal nerd, and he doesn’t retreat to draw due to feelings of loneliness or isolation. Gownley seems to be a smart kid and a talented athlete, and he has a loyal group of friends and a girlfriend. After he falls ill, first with chicken pox and then pneumonia, he falls behind in school and loses his head-of-the-class standing—a condition he is determined to reverse. A long-standing love of comics leads him to write his own, though his first attempt is shot down by his best friend, who suggests he should instead write a comic about their group. He does, and it’s an instant sensation. Gownley’s story is wonderful; his small-town life is so vividly evinced, it’s difficult to not get lost in it. While readers will certainly pick up on the nostalgia, it should be refreshing—if not completely alien—for younger readers to see teens interacting without texting, instead using phones with cords. Eagle-eyed readers will also be able to see the beginnings of his well-loved books about Amelia. He includes an author’s note that shouldn’t be overlooked—just be sure to keep the tissues handy.

Humble, endearing and utterly easy to relate to; don’t miss this one. (author’s note) (Graphic memoir. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-45346-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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