Fascinating, eminently entertaining, and sometimes frustrating.

RACE THROUGH THE SKIES

THE WEEK THE WORLD LEARNED TO FLY

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 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A SHOT IN THE ARM!

From the Big Ideas That Changed the World series , Vol. 3

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762) narrates this entry in the Big Ideas That Changed the World series, presenting the story of the development of vaccines.

Lady Mary, an intelligent, lovely White Englishwoman, was infected with smallpox in 1715. The disease left her scarred and possibly contributed to the failure of her marriage, but not before she moved with her husband to the Ottoman Empire and learned there of what came to be called variolation. Inoculating people with an attenuated (hopefully) version of smallpox to cause a mild but immunity-producing spell of the disease was practiced by the Ottomans but remained rare in England until Lady Mary, using her own children, popularized the practice during an epidemic. This graphic novel is illustrated with engaging panels of artwork that broaden its appeal, effectively conveying aspects of the story that extend the enthralling narrative. Taking care to credit innovations in immunology outside of European borders, Brown moves through centuries of thoughtful scientific inquiry and experimentation to thoroughly explain the history of vaccines and their limitless value to the world but also delves into the discouraging story of the anti-vaccination movement. Concluding with information about the Covid-19 pandemic, the narrative easily makes the case that a vaccine for this disease fits quite naturally into eons of scientific progress. Thoroughly researched and fascinating, this effort concludes with outstanding backmatter for a rich, accurate examination of the critical role of vaccines.

Essential. (timeline, biographical notes, bibliography) (Graphic nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5001-4

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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

MOTOR GIRLS

HOW WOMEN TOOK THE WHEEL AND DROVE BOLDLY INTO THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

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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