A compelling read sure to inspire young minds.

A biography of Joseph Lister focused on his advancements in antiseptic medicine.

Joseph Lister lived at a time when hospitals were dirty places and surgery was a brutal affair that frequently ended in death from hospital-born infections. Yet young Joseph was fascinated by how bodies worked, and he grew up to become a surgeon who tackled the mystery of why so many people died after surgeries. He systematically studied the role of inflammation in healing and—inspired by the work of Louis Pasteur—tested the theory that the infectious agent was microscopic. His story is told in clear, easy-to-read text; the clean prose is especially helpful when showing how he used the scientific method to refine his understanding. The curiosity that drove Joseph powers the mystery of the book and makes him a relatable, admirable figure. The text is broken up with illustrations, some full-page and many more in spotlight format. The use of sidebars and additional context from other scientific minds working on germ theory stumbles only in the conclusion of a brief discussion of Ignaz Semmelweis (“With his research ignored, Semmelweis went mad and eventually died in a mental institution”), which oversimplifies and uses othering language. Extensive backmatter includes relevant photographs and images, a timeline, a glossary, source notes by chapter, a bibliography, and an index. Final art unseen.

A compelling read sure to inspire young minds. (Biography. 8-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9780358538172

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday


An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy.

Through the author’s own childhood diary entries, a seventh grader details her inner life before and after 9/11.

Alyssa’s diary entries start in September 2000, in the first week of her seventh grade year. She’s 11 and dealing with typical preteen concerns—popularity and anxiety about grades—along with other things more particular to her own life. She’s shuffling between Queens and Manhattan to share time between her divorced parents and struggling with thick facial hair and classmates who make her feel like she’s “not a whole person” due to her mixed White and Puerto Rican heritage. Alyssa is endlessly earnest and awkward as she works up the courage to talk to her crush, Alejandro; gushes about her dreams of becoming a shoe designer; and tries to solve her burgeoning unibrow problem. The diaries also have a darker side, as a sense of impending doom builds as the entries approach 9/11, especially because Alyssa’s father works in finance in the World Trade Center. As a number of the diary entries are taken directly from the author’s originals, they effortlessly capture the loud, confusing feelings middle school brings out. The artwork, in its muted but effective periwinkle tones, lends a satisfying layer to the diary’s accessible and delightful format.

An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy. (author's note) (Graphic memoir. 8-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-77427-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021


From the They Did What? series

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

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. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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