Next book



A grand tale for present fans and future ones, too.

A richly detailed account of the life, family, and career of a renowned woman of letters.

Though she goes a little overboard in the sound-bite quote department—as biographers of this author are wont to do since the Alcotts and many of their friends were compulsive diarists and letter writers—Rosenberg generally avoids getting bogged down in fussy details. The result is a fresh and free-flowing character study of “a real-life heroine” gifted not only with versatile authorial chops, but a powerful sense of family responsibility and an uncommonly generous spirit. Family tragedies and Alcott’s own slow death from (probably) mercury poisoning get full play, but the overall tone is relatively bright; her experiences as a nurse in a Civil War hospital are quickly brushed in as source material for her Hospital Sketches, for example. Her various supposed (but never verified) romantic flings get so much speculative attention that Rosenberg’s prim “and in the end it is not our business” is amusingly disingenuous. Likewise, the profitable “gothic and romantic” works, which readers are frequently reminded the subject herself labeled rubbish, are described by Alcott as “gorgeous fancies” on a later page. Still, readers bemused by the contradictions will be no less moved for being entertained. Alcott’s progressive views (and a possible family connection with the Underground Railroad) are noted in the narrative. Chapters are prefaced by Sudyka’s full-page, naïve-style illustrations that evoke the historical setting.

A grand tale for present fans and future ones, too. (source notes, bibliography) (Biography. 12-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9435-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

Next book



Born in 1880 in a tiny backwater in Alabama, Helen Keller lived a life familiar to many from the play and movie The Miracle Worker, as well as countless biographies. There’s no denying the drama in the story of the deaf and blind child for whom the world of language became possible through a dedicated and fanatically stubborn teacher, Annie Sullivan. But Helen’s life after that is even more remarkable: she went to high school and then to Radcliffe; she was a radical political thinker and a member of the Wobblies; she supported herself by lecture tours and vaudeville excursions as well as through the kindness of many. Dash (The Longitude Prize, p. 1483) does a clear-sighted and absorbing job of examining Annie’s prickly personality and the tender family that she, Helen, and Annie’s husband John Macy formed. She touches on the family pressures that conspired to keep Helen from her own pursuit of love and marriage; she makes vivid not only Helen’s brilliant and vibrant intelligence and personality, but the support of many people who loved her, cared for her, and served her. She also does not shrink from the describing the social and class divisions that kept some from crediting Annie Sullivan and others intent on making Helen into a puppet and no more. Riveting reading for students in need of inspiration, or who’re overcoming disability or studying changing expectations for women. (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-590-90715-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

Next book



From the Living History series

Definitely on a mission, but some sense of the woman beneath the robes comes through.

An analytical view of the personal and cultural values that make the Supreme Court’s first Hispanic and third woman justice an admirable role model.

Emphasizing Sotomayor’s affinity to minority readers in particular, Mendoza highlights the influences of Nuyorican community spirit (“the wonderful optimism of being bicultural”) and “Island Girl Values” along with the personal discipline required to live with childhood diabetes in forming her subject’s character. Sotomayor’s youth and career acquire a shine of legend as she goes from early ambitions to be the “Latina Perry Mason” (a phrase the author loves enough to use repeatedly) through law school and up the ladder of responsibility. Her attainment of the stratospheric bench where “she was meant to be all along,” leading the “Rock Star Life” of a Supreme Court justice, is presented as destiny. Wowza. The prose, though rough-hewn (“The value of education was always engrained in her brain”), is at least less mannered than the free verse of Carmen T. Bernier-Grand’s eponymous profile, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez (2010), and the biographical details end with a note on a 2015 award.

Definitely on a mission, but some sense of the woman beneath the robes comes through. (notes, bibliography) (Biography. 12-14)

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-942186-09-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

Close Quickview