Little Lotta’s big life is a globe-trotting adventure of a woman ahead of her time, reminding contemporary readers that, “if...

LOTTA CRABTREE

GOLD RUSH FAIRY STAR

Harris introduces 19th-century performer Lotta Crabtree in her newest biography.

Born in 1847 to English immigrants, Lotta Crabtree became a darling of the stage in the latter half of the 19th century. Lotta got her start as a child performing as a so-called “Fairy Star” in California Gold Rush mining communities but came to be known across the United States and in England as well. Lotta established her own style, with a willingness to bend rules and break tradition, her playful physicality on stage also earning her the distinction of first female comic performer. In addition to the narrative biography, informative sidebars provide a more in-depth look at technology, events, and cultural issues of Lotta’s life and times, including the invention of the telegraph, completion of the transcontinental railroad, and the rise and fall of minstrel shows. The sheer number of Lotta’s major life events that the author includes in such a brief space leads to occasional disruptions in the narrative flow. Nevertheless, this easy-to-read biography is sure to appeal to fans of 19th-century American history as well as those seeking narratives of strong and trailblazing women.

Little Lotta’s big life is a globe-trotting adventure of a woman ahead of her time, reminding contemporary readers that, “if a girl is going to truly succeed in the world she must do so as her own self.” (timeline, source notes, glossary, bibliography, index) (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4556-2230-6

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Pelican

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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A likable journey that is sensitive to the triumphs and agonies of being a 13-year-old girl.

FRIENDS FOREVER

From the Friends series , Vol. 3

Shannon just wants to get through eighth grade in one piece—while feeling like her own worst enemy.

In this third entry in popular author for young people Hale’s graphic memoir series, the young, sensitive overachiever is crushed by expectations: to be cool but loyal to her tightknit and dramatic friend group, a top student but not a nerd, attractive to boys but true to her ideals. As events in Shannon’s life begin to overwhelm her, she works toward finding a way to love and understand herself, follow her passions for theater and writing, and ignore her cruel inner voice. Capturing the visceral embarrassments of middle school in 1987 Salt Lake City, Shannon’s emotions are vivid and often excruciating. In particular, the social norms of a church-oriented family are clearly addressed, and religion is shown as being both a comfort and a struggle for Shannon. While the text is sometimes in danger of spelling things out a little too neatly and obviously, the emotional honesty and sincerity drawn from Hale’s own life win out. Pham’s artwork is vibrant and appealing, with stylistic changes for Shannon’s imaginings and the leeching out of color and use of creative panel structures as her anxiety and depression worsen.

A likable journey that is sensitive to the triumphs and agonies of being a 13-year-old girl. (author's note, gallery) (Graphic memoir. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-31755-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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