Fearless indeed. A biography that goes the distance! (author’s note, women and the Boston Marathon, bibliography) (Picture...

HER FEARLESS RUN

KATHRINE SWITZER’S HISTORIC BOSTON MARATHON

Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as an officially registered runner, is highlighted in this debut for both author and illustrator.

Each time she races past the tree in her backyard, 12-year-old Kathrine marks its trunk with chalk to record her laps. “One lap to go…just a few more feet…a few steps…1 MILE!” Though she’s proud of her accomplishment, other people stare or wonder if something is wrong, because girls aren’t supposed to sport. But for Kathrine, “running [is] magic.” As she grows up, she continues to challenge her physical limits. Yet despite her running prowess, society still believes women are “too weak, too fragile,” to compete. However, no rules bar women from running the Boston Marathon, so Switzer signs up for the race. As if training weren’t difficult enough, what Switzer encounters during the 26.2 miles will take more than passion and endurance for her to finish. Readers eager to chase down biographies that feel like stories will appreciate how this book achieves that expectation. Chaffee’s text balances thorough research with strong prose that breaks through the wall that stops some nonfiction in its tracks. Additionally, Rooney’s collagelike paint, paper, and pencil illustrations are rich in texture and vibrant in color, capturing both the motion of running and emotion of persevering. They include some people of color to background the mostly white primary cast.

Fearless indeed. A biography that goes the distance! (author’s note, women and the Boston Marathon, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62414-654-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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An important and inspiring tale well told.

CARTER READS THE NEWSPAPER

This biography of the “father of Black History,” Dr. Carter G. Woodson, highlights experiences that shaped his passion.

Carter was born after the Civil War, but his parents had been slaves, and he grew up hearing the stories of their lives. With six siblings, Carter experienced lean times as a boy. Carter’s father, who couldn’t read or write, had Carter read the newspaper aloud. As a teenager, Carter had to work to help his family. In the coal mines, he met Oliver Jones, a Civil War veteran who opened his small home to the other men as a reading room. There, Carter once again took on the role of reader, informing Oliver and his friends of what was in the paper—and then researching to tell them more. After three years in the mines, he moved home to continue his education, eventually earning a Ph.D. from Harvard, where a professor challenged him to prove that his people had a history. In 1926 he established Negro History Week, which later became Black History Month. Hopkinson skillfully shapes Carter’s childhood, family history, and formative experiences into a cohesive story. The soft curves and natural palette of Tate’s illustrations render potentially scary episodes manageable for young readers, and portraits of historical figures offer an opening to further discovery. The incorporation of newsprint into many page backgrounds artfully echoes the title, and the inclusion of notable figures from black history reinforces the theme (a key is in the backmatter).

An important and inspiring tale well told. (author’s note, illustrator’s note, resources, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-56145-934-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012).

UGLY

A memoir of the first 14 years in the life of Australian Robert Hoge, born with stunted legs and a tumor in the middle of his face.

In 1972, Robert is born, the youngest of five children, with fishlike eyes on the sides of his face, a massive lump in place of his nose, and malformed legs. As baby Robert is otherwise healthy, the doctors convince his parents to approve the first of many surgeries to reduce his facial difference. One leg is also amputated, and Robert comes home to his everyday white, working-class family. There's no particular theme to the tale of Robert's next decade and a half: he experiences school and teasing, attempts to participate in sports, and is shot down by a girl. Vignette-driven choppiness and the lack of an overarching narrative would make the likeliest audience be those who seek disability stories. However, young Robert's ongoing quest to identify as "normal"—a quest that remains unchanged until a sudden turnaround on the penultimate page—risks alienating readers comfortable with their disabilities. Brief lyrical moments ("as compulsory as soggy tomato sandwiches at snack time") appeal but are overwhelmed by the dry, distant prose dominating this autobiography.

An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012). (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-425-28775-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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