DAREDEVIL

THE DARING LIFE OF BETTY SKELTON

McCarthy has spun an adventurous story about this little-known woman, highlighting her groundbreaking triumphs with...

Ever hear of Betty Skelton? Most people haven’t, yet this woman was a whirling daredevil who liked to go fast and broke records in aviation and auto racing.

In the 1930s, most girls played with dolls, but not Betty: She was obsessed with airplanes, and at age 16, she soloed. She wanted to be a commercial pilot and fly in the Navy, but she was laughed at. So she became a stunt pilot with her dog, Little Tinker, by her side and no shoes on her feet. In 1951 she broke an altitude record. Then she traded planes for race cars and drove into a new career, breaking the women’s record at the Bonneville Salt Flats with a speed of 315.74 mph. Those challenges weren’t enough for Betty, and she went on to driving a stunt boat. What was next? She trained to be an astronaut, but NASA wasn’t ready to send a female into space. Even so, Betty had “proven that women could do it as well as men.” The acrylic cartoon illustrations play up Betty’s spunk and derring-do with McCarthy’s trademark googly eyed expressions. Her achievements are stated in the straightforward narrative, but the author allows readers to tap into her personality through use of quotes: When Betty flew higher than Mount Everest, she said: “My feet darn near froze to death.”

McCarthy has spun an adventurous story about this little-known woman, highlighting her groundbreaking triumphs with respectful whimsy. (“Fun Facts,” additional quotes, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 4, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2262-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

RAFI AND ROSI MUSIC!

From the Rafi and Rosi series

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

ACOUSTIC ROOSTER AND HIS BARNYARD BAND

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...

Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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