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Fascinating, eminently entertaining, and sometimes frustrating.

Oh, “those magnificent men in their flying machines”!

National Book Award winner Sandler explores one brief but momentous week in the early history of aviation. Only about six years after the Wright brothers achieved their first 57-second flight, pilots from around the world gathered in Rheims, France, in August 1909 for the Champagne Region’s Great Aviation Week (Grande Semaine d’Aviation de la Champagne). It was the first international air meet. Although the Wrights chose not to participate, the U.S. was well represented by Glenn Curtiss, whose limited experience matched that of other so-called veteran pilots of the era. They would all compete in their remarkably flimsy wood-and-fabric machines for a variety of large cash prizes, in the process captivating immense crowds and advancing aviation technology. The races are presented in thrilling detail and clearly placed in the context of the history of early aviation. A large collection of outstanding period photographs extends the tale. Unfortunately, in the midst of excellence, numerous additional topics, all about two pages long, are wedged in, nearly always interrupting the narrative midsentence—an annoying design flaw in this otherwise fine work. A final section provides a “postscript” of the lives, some sadly brief, of the aviators, mostly white and European, who participated at Rheims.

Fascinating, eminently entertaining, and sometimes frustrating. (further reading, websites, museums, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0344-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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From the Race to the Truth series

Deftly written and informative; a call for vigilance and equality.

An examination of the history of Chinese American experiences.

Blackburn opens with a note to readers about growing up feeling invisible as a multicultural, biracial Chinese American. She notes the tremendous diversity of Chinese American history and writes that this book is a starting point for learning more. The evenly paced narrative starts with the earliest recorded arrival of the Chinese in America in 1834. A teenage girl, whose real name is unknown, arrived in New York Harbor with the Carnes brothers, merchants who imported Chinese goods and put her on display “like an animal in a circus.” The author then examines shifting laws, U.S. and global political and economic climates, and changing societal attitudes. The book introduces the highlighted people—including Yee Ah Tye, Wong Kim Ark, Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, and Vincent Chen—in relation to lawsuits or other transformative events; they also stand as examples for explaining concepts such as racial hierarchy and the model minority myth. Maps, photos, and documents are interspersed throughout. Chapters close with questions that encourage readers to think critically about systems of oppression, actively engage with the material, and draw connections to their own lives. Although the book covers a wide span of history, from the Gold Rush to the rise in anti-Asian hate during the Covid-19 pandemic, it thoroughly explains the various events. Blackburn doesn’t shy away from describing terrible setbacks, but she balances them with examples of solidarity and progress.

Deftly written and informative; a call for vigilance and equality. (resources, bibliography, image credits) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9780593567630

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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An extraordinary tale of sisterhood and survival, told with simplicity.

A true story of two sisters—one Deaf and one hearing—and how they endured a perilous childhood in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II.

Herta Myers, 8, and Renee, 10, are sisters living in Bratislava, the capital of what was then Czechoslovakia, during World War II. Renee is her family’s ears, as Herta and both of their parents are Deaf. They all communicate using sign language. Renee becomes so good at recognizing the sound of soldiers’ boots outside the window that she can warn her family of any danger. With narration traded between the girls, readers learn that the sisters are hidden on a farm with a couple who are also Deaf. Eventually, separated from their parents, the sisters’ journey leads them to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where their collective resolve is endlessly tested. This is a compelling story, exploring the role that senses play when one is in danger as well as presenting the candid recollections of everyday details of two children navigating appalling conditions during wartime. It is, however, a lot to process for kids who are as young as Herta and Renee were at the time of their most traumatic experiences. In the epilogue, co-author Greene reveals that this book is largely a compilation and interweaving of the transcripts of interviews that these two sisters gave to the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University.

An extraordinary tale of sisterhood and survival, told with simplicity. (poem, photographs) (Memoir. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-75335-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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