An incomplete but appealing and informative depiction of cryptographer Elizebeth Friedman.

CODE BREAKER, SPY HUNTER

HOW ELIZEBETH FRIEDMAN CHANGED THE COURSE OF TWO WORLD WARS

From Shakespeare to secrets and spies.

When Elizebeth Smith Friedman graduated college in 1915 with a degree in English literature, she had no idea that the future held secret government work in store—she was initially hired by a wealthy eccentric to find messages in Shakespeare’s plays to reveal his “true” identity. Eventually, her talent with language and analysis led to her selection, with her husband, to set up the first code-breaking unit in the U.S. Over her career she unraveled thousands of secret messages, working for the military through two world wars, preventing countless deaths, catching smugglers and spies, and training others to do all of the above. Her work was classified Top Secret Ultra. Concise description with interesting details combines with evocative illustrations that frequently incorporate Friedman’s own words to portray the life of this extraordinary White woman. With the exception of a single quote worked into the illustrations—“Many times I’ve been asked as to how my direction, that is the direction and superior status of a woman as instructor, teacher, mentor…how these men accepted my authority”—no mention is made of how unusual her position was as a woman of the time and, indeed, how her authority was accepted. Still, youngsters will be fascinated by this engaging biographical selection of an original thinker, which includes elements of STEM and history and provides a picture of a dedicated, resilient woman. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 67% of actual size.)

An incomplete but appealing and informative depiction of cryptographer Elizebeth Friedman. (notes, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3963-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom.

MORE THAN PEACH

A Black girl’s simple observation propels her into activism.

Woodard, who launched the More Than Peach Project—which arranges for classrooms and children in need to receive kits that include art supplies and boxes of multicultural crayons (crayons in a variety of skin tones)—relates the incident that sparked her journey. As the book begins, she is dropped off at school and notices that her family’s skin tone differs from that of her classmates. While it is clear that she is one of a few children of color at school, that difference isn’t really felt until her friends start asking for the “skin-color” crayon when they mean peach. She’s bothered that no one else seems to notice that skin comes in many colors, so she devises a unique way of bringing everyone’s attention to that fact. With support from her family and her school, she encourages her fellow classmates to rethink their language and starts an initiative to ensure that everyone’s skin tone is represented in each crayon box. Appealing, realistic artwork depicts Woodard’s experiences, while endpapers feature More Than Peach crayon boxes and childlike illustrations of kids of different ethnicities doing various activities. The story is stirring and will motivate budding activists. (This book was reviewed digitally; the review has been updated for factual accuracy.)

An inspirational look at one girl’s quest to make sure that all skin tones are visible and available in the classroom. (note from Woodard, information on Woodard’s journey into activism, instructions on starting a drive) (Picture-book biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-80927-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few...

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT FREEDOM

Shamir offers an investigation of the foundations of freedoms in the United States via its founding documents, as well as movements and individuals who had great impacts on shaping and reshaping those institutions.

The opening pages of this picture book get off to a wobbly start with comments such as “You know that feeling you get…when you see a wide open field that you can run through without worrying about traffic or cars? That’s freedom.” But as the book progresses, Shamir slowly steadies the craft toward that wide-open field of freedom. She notes the many obvious-to-us-now exclusivities that the founding political documents embodied—that the entitled, white, male authors did not extend freedom to enslaved African-Americans, Native Americans, and women—and encourages readers to learn to exercise vigilance and foresight. The gradual inclusion of these left-behind people paints a modestly rosy picture of their circumstances today, and the text seems to give up on explaining how Native Americans continue to be left behind. Still, a vital part of what makes freedom daunting is its constant motion, and that is ably expressed. Numerous boxed tidbits give substance to the bigger political picture. Who were the abolitionists and the suffragists, what were the Montgomery bus boycott and the “Uprising of 20,000”? Faulkner’s artwork conveys settings and emotions quite well, and his drawing of Ruby Bridges is about as darling as it gets. A helpful timeline and bibliography appear as endnotes.

A reasonably solid grounding in constitutional rights, their flexibility, lacunae, and hard-won corrections, despite a few misfires. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54728-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more