Routine assignment fodder.



From the Gateway Biographies series

A standard-issue profile of the renowned activist—one of a spate launched by his death in December 2013.

Doeden opens with Mandela on trial for treason in 1964, closes with a quote from Barack Obama’s eulogy and in between covers the civil rights leader’s long career from childhood to final illness. Small news photos and boxed discussions of apartheid and Steve Biko’s brief life accompany a narrative that reads like a term paper—though, looking at the paltry lists of notes and sources at the end, an inadequately documented one. Along with plenty of similar bio-trivia, readers will find out that Mandela moved from village schools in Qunu and Mqhekezweni to Clarkebury Boarding Institute, Healdtown and the University of Fort Hare before getting a correspondence-course law degree from the University of South Africa…but not why any of that is worth knowing or what light it sheds on his character, achievements and historical significance. Yona Zeldis McDonough’s Peaceful Protest (illustrated by Malcah Zeldis, 2002) or Kadir Nelson’s terse but masterful Nelson Mandela (2013) supply clearer, more cogent tributes.

Routine assignment fodder. (further reading, websites, index) (Biography. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-5197-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Lerner

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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At its best when the emphasis is on the skill and artistry of Mime’s most accomplished practitioner—alas, too much of the...



The legendary mime is introduced to a new generation, though not entirely successfully.

As a child, Marceau loved to silently entertain his friends, like his idol, Charlie Chaplin. During the Nazi occupation of France, Marcel and his brother took on new identities in the French Underground, where they forged documents for Jewish children and helped many to escape to Switzerland. Spielman assumes that her young audience will understand references to deportation and concentration camps; unfortunately for those that don't, her matter-of-fact tone speaks more of adventure than deadly peril. Her tone subtly changes when she lovingly describes Marceau’s training and development as a mime and his stage persona of Bip the clown, admiring his skills in the “art of silence” that won him international renown. But here too, comparisons to the Little Tramp and Pierrot may be outside readers’ frame of reference. Though the illustrations carefully complement the textual content with period details, Gauthier’s cartoon faces are all nearly identical, with only the screen image of Chaplin and Marceau’s Bip having distinctive features. A double-page spread at the conclusion provides photographs of Bip in action and is the only clear indication of Marceau’s stagecraft.

At its best when the emphasis is on the skill and artistry of Mime’s most accomplished practitioner—alas, too much of the book looks elsewhere. (Picture book/biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7613-3961-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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Appealing fare for STEM-centric flipping and dipping.


From the In a Nutshell series

A gallery of gadgets, gizmos, and groundbreaking innovations, from sliced bread to smartphones.

Concept definitely trumps content, as Gifford introduces in no discernible order an arbitrary 100 inventions in a likewise arbitrary 100 words (more or less) apiece. For each, Gu supplies brightly hued representations of a fancifully rendered version, often being used by racially diverse groups of figures sporting stylized features and a range of skin colors. The entries go back to prehistoric times to include the wheel, scratch plow, and writing but mainly comprise more recent innovations like printing and telegraphs, bubble wrap and search engines, lasers and plastics. Amid all these usual suspects lurk some lower-profile picks, from paper bags and Kevlar to the dishwasher and Barbie dolls. All of the inventions in the previous sentence and others besides, the author notes, were invented by women—in fact, for all the brevity of his anecdotes and descriptions, he’s careful to identify specific inventors whenever possible, and he also highlights any who are or were particularly young. Closing timeline notwithstanding, this isn’t offering any coherent picture of the grand sweep of technological advance, but the format will draw casual browsers and collectors of random facts. 100 Things To Know About Art, by Susie Hodge and illustrated by Marcos Farina, publishes simultaneously, taking a similar approach to visual arts, covering periods, media, techniques, and more.

Appealing fare for STEM-centric flipping and dipping. (index, glossary, resource lists) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7112-6808-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Happy Yak

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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