An intriguing piece of scholarship, despite the unnecessary inventions (and lack of footnotes).



Shedding light on a truly obscure historical incident, a hybrid account of “the first, last, and only known fugitive slave to travel the tiny Puget Sound Underground Railroad.”

A single-passenger “Underground Railroad” isn’t the only reach here. Filling in a scanty documentary record with substantial amounts of invented dialogue (“I don’ wanna leave here. Why I gotta go?”), imputed actions and outright speculation, the authors present a double portrait: of James Tilton, surveyor general of Washington Territory, and of Charlie Mitchell, a mixed-race child in Tilton’s household who may well have been the Territory’s only enslaved person. Born on a failed Maryland plantation around 1847 and taken by Tilton as a favor to a relative, Mitchell arrived in Olympia in 1855—not so far from Victoria (a boomtown on the southern tip of Vancouver Island) and freedom. In 1860, he fled to Canada, sparked a kerfuffle recorded in court documents and newspaper articles, and then, aside from a few tantalizing census records, dropped from history. Along with a broad analysis of Tilton’s typically (for his class and times) paternalistic racial and political views, the authors fill in the blanks with details of his experiences as a soldier in the Mexican War and later (futile) attempts to run for office. They also include references to larger events, the area’s general history and its loose community of free African-Americans.

An intriguing piece of scholarship, despite the unnecessary inventions (and lack of footnotes).   (afterword, bibliography) (Fiction/Nonfiction blend. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-295-99271-6

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Univ. of Washington

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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Macy wheels out another significant and seldom explored chapter in women’s history.



Well-documented proof that, when it came to early automobiles, it wasn’t just men who took the wheel.

Despite relentlessly flashy page design that is more distracting than otherwise and a faint typeface sure to induce eyestrain, this companion to Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (2011) chronicles decided shifts in gender attitudes and expectations as it puts women (American women, mostly) behind the wheel in the first decades of the 20th century. Sidebar profiles and features, photos, advertisements, and clippings from contemporary magazines and newspapers festoon a revved-up narrative that is often set in angular blocks for added drama. Along with paying particular attention to women who went on the road to campaign for the vote and drove ambulances and other motor vehicles during World War I, Macy recounts notable speed and endurance races, and she introduces skilled drivers/mechanics such as Alice Ramsey and Joan Newton Cuneo. She also diversifies the predominantly white cast with nods to Madam C.J. Walker, her daughter, A’Lelia (both avid motorists), and the wartime Colored Women’s Motor Corps. An intro by Danica Patrick, checklists of “motoring milestones,” and an extended account of an 1895 race run and won by men do more for the page count than the overall story—but it’s nonetheless a story worth the telling.

Macy wheels out another significant and seldom explored chapter in women’s history. (index, statistics, source notes, annotated reading list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2697-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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If readers can make sense of this story, they’re likely able to tackle the original instead.



Letts adapts her bestselling 2016 work of the same title for young readers.

As World War II sweeps across Europe, the fates of several master horsemen become entwined. In Poland, Andrzej Kristalovich, head of the national stud farm, sees his life’s work disappear when Russian soldiers capture his horses. Nazi Germans, invading next, restore some of the animals in order to breed them for the Third Reich. Meanwhile, in Vienna, Olympic medalist Alois Podhajsky is desperately trying to care for the Lipizzan stallions at the famed Spanish Riding School even as the invading Germans capture the Lipizzan stud farms and move most of the horses to Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile, at an American Army base in Kansas, Maj. Hank Reed is overseeing the cavalry’s transition from horses, no longer useful in warfare, to mechanized vehicles. These threads come together at the end of the war when Reed orchestrates a complex rescue of both sets of horses. This is not a particularly successful adaptation. It’s shorter than the original, but both the storyline and timeline are fragmented, making it difficult for the putative audience of 8- to 12-year-olds to follow, and extraneous details fail to advance the main narrative. Aside from a map and archival images (both not seen), there is no timeline or other visual aid to help organize the narrative. Characters are all white.

If readers can make sense of this story, they’re likely able to tackle the original instead. (author’s note, characters, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-64474-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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