Informative, engaging, and important.

A SPORTING CHANCE

HOW LUDWIG GUTTMANN CREATED THE PARALYMPIC GAMES

Alexander chronicles how Jewish doctor Ludwig Guttmann became “the founding father of the Paralympic Games.”

In 1917, with World War I underway, Guttmann graduated from high school and became an orderly in Germany’s National Emergency Services, where he met a paralyzed coal miner with a grim prognosis: “Dead in six weeks.” For decades, paralyzed patients’ futures remained bleak. In 1939, after courageously resisting the rising Nazi regime, Guttmann—by then a neurologist—escaped to England. In 1944 he established his Spinal Injuries Center at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where bedridden “incurables” languished. Guttmann, however, resolved to rescue them from “the human scrapheap,” developing innovative treatments and encouraging self-sufficiency. Noting that playing such sports as wheelchair archery and basketball both “brought passion and fun back into patients’ lives” and improved their health, he realized that public competitions would also show nondisabled people that patients were “more than their injuries.” Through Guttmann’s tireless advocacy, a 1948 archery competition on Stoke Mandeville’s lawn evolved into the Paralympic Games, currently the world’s third-largest sporting event. The author explores Guttmann’s career in thorough medical and historical detail; diagrams and text boxes supplement discussions of everything from the nervous system to Nazi atrocities, enabling readers to fully appreciate his efforts. Alongside archival photographs, Drummond’s color cartoon illustrations extend the straightforward text. Profiles of contemporary Paralympians provide an inspiring epilogue. Most photographed figures, including Guttmann, appear White; one contemporary athlete presents Black.

Informative, engaging, and important. (timeline, bibliography, notes, index) (Biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-58079-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...

TWO MEN AND A CAR

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AL CAPONE, AND A CADILLAC V-8

A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A detail-rich picture book best for readers who enjoy nonfiction and are interested in history or science.

COUNTING THE STARS

THE STORY OF KATHERINE JOHNSON, NASA MATHEMATICIAN

This biography of renowned mathematician Katherine Johnson featuring illustrations by Colón aims for elementary-age readers.

Cline-Ransome (Finding Langston, 2018, etc.) traces Johnson’s love of math, curiosity about the world, and studiousness from her early entry to school through her help sending a man into space as a human computer at NASA. The text is detailed and lengthy, between one and four paragraphs of fairly small text on each spread. Many biographies of black achievers during segregation focus on society’s limits and the subject’s determination to reach beyond them. This book takes a subtler approach, mentioning segregation only once (at her new work assignment, “she ignored the stares and the COLORED GIRLS signs on the bathroom door and the segregated cafeteria”) and the glass ceiling for women twice in a factual tone as potential obstacles that did not stop Johnson. Her work is described in the context of the space race, which helps to clarify the importance of her role. Colón’s signature soft, textured illustrations evoke the time period and Johnson’s feeling of wonder about the world, expressed in the refrain, “Why? What? How?” The text moves slowly and demands a fairly high comprehension level (e.g., “it was the job of these women computers to double-check the engineers’ data, develop complex equations, and analyze the numbers”). An author’s note repeats much of the text, adding quotes from Johnson and more details about her more recent recognition.

A detail-rich picture book best for readers who enjoy nonfiction and are interested in history or science. (Picture book/biography. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0475-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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