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MRS. LINCOLN’S DRESSMAKER

THE UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP OF ELIZABETH KECKLEY AND MARY TODD LINCOLN

Using period photographs and illustrations to expand the interest level, this account provides brief, strongly contrasting biographies of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley. Lincoln, often maligned, grew up in a family of wealth and privilege. She arrived at adulthood with few coping skills to deal with the tragedies she faced—the loss of three of her beloved children in their youth and the assassination of Abraham, her primary source of emotional support. Keckley needed strength from early childhood, growing up as a slave and oftentimes physically abused. A talented seamstress, she not only supported her owner’s family at one point with profits from her sewing, eventually she purchased her freedom. In Washington, she became Lincoln’s seamstress—and one of her few friends. Lincoln’s life has been well documented; it was a stroke of genius to contrast it with the less well-known story of this talented former slave. Including many anecdotes that provide insight into the pair and featuring impeccable research, this volume is an excellent, fascinating addition to literature on the Civil War era. (author’s note, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4263-0377-7

Page Count: 80

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2008

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50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

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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THE LOST GARDEN

A detailed, absorbing picture of Chinese-American culture in the 50's and 60's, of particular interest to Yep's many...

In a strong debut for the new "In My Own Words" series, the author of The Star Fisher (see below) portrays his own youth.

Brought up in San Francisco, where his parents managed for years to defend a mom-and-pop grocery against an increasingly rough non-Chinese neighborhood, Yep went to Chinatown to attend a Catholic school and to visit his grandmother. Always aware of belonging to several cultures, he is a keen observer who began early to "keep a file of family history" and who tellingly reveals how writing fiction, honestly pursued, can lead to new insights: in putting his own "mean" teacher into one book, he began for the first time to understand her viewpoint. He divides his account topically, rather than chronologically, with chapters on the store, Chinatown, family tradition, being an outsider, etc., concluding with his college years ("Culture Shock") and some later experiences especially related to his writing. Always, Yep is trying to integrate his many "pieces" ("raised in a black neighborhood...too American to fit into Chinatown and too Chinese to fit in elsewhere...the clumsy son of the athletic family..."), until he discovers that writing transforms him "from being a puzzle to a puzzle solver."

A detailed, absorbing picture of Chinese-American culture in the 50's and 60's, of particular interest to Yep's many admirers or would-be writers. (Autobiography. 11-15)

Pub Date: May 1, 1991

ISBN: 0688137016

Page Count: 117

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991

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