Engle’s new offering contains moments of true poetic beauty, but these choices detract from an otherwise lovely,...

SILVER PEOPLE

VOICES FROM THE PANAMA CANAL

A poetic exploration of the construction of the Panama Canal.

From the animal inhabitants of the Panamanian jungle, disturbed and displaced by the construction, and the trees felled to the human workers, Engle unites disparate voices into a cohesive narrative in poems chronicling the creation of the Panama Canal. Mateo, a 14-year-old Cuban lured by promises of wealth, journeys to Panama only to discover the recruiters’ lies and a life of harsh labor. However, through his relationships with Anita, an “herb girl,” Henry, a black Jamaican worker, and Augusto, a Puerto Rican geologist, Mateo is able to find a place in his new land. The Newbery Honoree and Pura Belpré winner’s verse is characteristically elegant, and her inclusion of nonhuman voices brings home the environmental impact of the monumental project. Given this breadth, Engle’s choice to center her story on a nonblack protagonist is saddening, as the majority of the workers on the Panama Canal were black islanders. Furthermore, while Mateo and Anita—and even many of the flora and fauna characters—are represented on the cover, Henry, a prominent character and the only black given a voice, does not make an appearance—a regrettable decision.

Engle’s new offering contains moments of true poetic beauty, but these choices detract from an otherwise lovely, enlightening book. (author’s note, selected bibliography) (Historical fiction/verse. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10941-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A satisfying story of family, friendship and small-town cooperation in a 21st-century world.

THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF MIKE

Sent to stay with octogenarian relatives for the summer, 14-year-old Mike ends up coordinating a community drive to raise $40,000 for the adoption of a Romanian orphan. He’ll never be his dad's kind of engineer, but he learns he’s great at human engineering.

Mike’s math learning disability is matched by his widower father's lack of social competence; the Giant Genius can’t even reliably remember his son’s name. Like many of the folks the boy comes to know in Do Over, Penn.—his great-uncle Poppy silent in his chair, the multiply pierced-and-tattooed Gladys from the bank and “a homeless guy” who calls himself Past—Mike feels like a failure. But in spite of his own lack of confidence, he provides the kick start they need to cope with their losses and contribute to the campaign. Using the Internet (especially YouTube), Mike makes use of town talents and his own webpage design skills and entrepreneurial imagination. Math-definition chapter headings (Compatible Numbers, Zero Property, Tessellations) turn out to apply well to human actions in this well-paced, first-person narrative. Erskine described Asperger’s syndrome from the inside in Mockingbird (2010). Here, it’s a likely cause for the rift between father and son touchingly mended at the novel's cinematic conclusion.

A satisfying story of family, friendship and small-town cooperation in a 21st-century world. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 9, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25505-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A studied account of the innovative and impulsive fashion legend that’s likely to inspire budding designers of any age.

HOT PINK

THE LIFE AND FASHIONS OF ELSA SCHIAPARELLI

The life story of the trailblazing designer.

Having tackled Leonard Bernstein, Diego Rivera, and more, Rubin now turns to one of modernism’s most colorful fashion designers, Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973), inventor of hot pink and a slew of fashion firsts. Known to intimates simply as “Schiap” (pronounced “skap” from “Skap-a-rell-ee,” helpfully elucidated early on), the younger daughter of traditional Italian parents was born in Rome, drawing early inspiration from her librarian father’s rare books. Rubin’s account highlights formative moments in Schiap’s rebellious youth but focuses mainly on the extraordinary accomplishments of her career. Schiap not only used fashion to compensate for internalized physical shortcomings, but extended her talents to help clothe women of all walks of life. Schiap believed that helping women “find their type” was “the secret of being well dressed.” Though some of her more outlandish designs included zany hats, buttons in the shapes of vegetables, and accessories sporting insects, Schiap was also revered for path-breaking casual knitwear alongside wild couture collaborations with Man Ray and Salvador Dalí. Unfortunately, while Rubin’s well-researched and eye-catchingly illustrated portrayal hooks readers with the history behind “shocking” or “hot” pink and includes copious quotations from Schiaparelli herself, its overall effect is surprisingly dry.

A studied account of the innovative and impulsive fashion legend that’s likely to inspire budding designers of any age. (author’s note, Schiaparelli facts, bibliography, notes, index) (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1642-3

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more