An entertaining and instructive look at a tumultuous year.

1919

THE YEAR THAT CHANGED AMERICA

The year 1919 was a significant one in 20th-century American history.

Sandler draws on a wide range of resources to present some of the most compelling news stories of a banner year. In Boston, a huge tank of molasses exploded, sending a lethal flood of syrup across an area largely occupied by impoverished immigrants. Both soldiers just returned from the Great War and those who’d patriotically served on the homefront discovered that there’d be few jobs for them—most of those at wages insufficient to support families—leading to numerous strikes. Reacting to intolerable repression, black Americans struck back at white abuses in a series of violent racial conflicts (described as “riots”) that rocked both urban and rural communities. The U.S. attorney general pushed back against a perceived “Red Scare” of communist agitators, leading to mass imprisonments and deportations that reflected more a growing sense of anti-immigrant prejudice than any actual danger. Women were campaigning to achieve voting rights, and Prohibition was instituted. Each chapter attempts to relate that section’s issue to modern problems, in one case tenuously drawing a connection between labor unrest and climate change. Sandler’s prose is vigorous, impassioned, and carefully contextualized. If some of his choices seem odd (he fully reports the Molasses Flood, a regional story, while the massive international influenza epidemic of the era receives scant coverage), it’s nevertheless a fascinating story, augmented by numerous attractive archival images.

An entertaining and instructive look at a tumultuous year. (further reading, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 11-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-801-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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Levinson builds her dramatic account around the experiences of four young arrestees—including a 9-year-old, two teenage...

WE'VE GOT A JOB

THE 1963 BIRMINGHAM CHILDREN'S MARCH

Triumph and tragedy in 1963 “Bombingham,” as children and teens pick up the flagging civil rights movement and give it a swift kick in the pants.

Levinson builds her dramatic account around the experiences of four young arrestees—including a 9-year-old, two teenage activists trained in nonviolent methods and a high school dropout who was anything but nonviolent. She opens by mapping out the segregated society of Birmingham and the internal conflicts and low levels of adult participation that threatened to bring the planned jail-filling marches dubbed “Project C” (for “confrontation”), and by extension the entire civil rights campaign in the South, to a standstill. Until, that is, a mass exodus from the city’s black high schools (plainly motivated, at least at first, almost as much by the chance to get out of school as by any social cause) at the beginning of May put thousands of young people on the streets and in the way of police dogs, fire hoses and other abuses before a national audience. The author takes her inspiring tale of courage in the face of both irrational racial hatred and adult foot-dragging (on both sides) through the ensuing riots and the electrifying September bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, then brings later lives of her central participants up to date.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-56145-627-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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

THE PERFECT HORSE

THE DARING RESCUE OF HORSES KIDNAPPED DURING WORLD WAR II

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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