The book’s overall tone—that of a laundry list of accomplishments—does a disservice to readers who deserve to relate to and...

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A WORLD OF HER OWN

24 AMAZING WOMEN EXPLORERS AND ADVENTURERS

If only the writing lived up to the subject matter….

Twenty-four vignettes of intrepid true-life women—exploring, adventuring and risking their lives to live fully—are recounted in passive, confusing narratives. Disjointed thoughts plague many of the accounts: “At one point Sophia thought that she couldn’t walk another step, but she only grew stronger.” Troublesome undercurrents riffle others: “…and Eleanor’s intelligence, courage, and grace set an example of what a woman could accomplish at sea.” (Switch the gender and see how patronizing it sounds.) For a book about women, the influence of men infiltrates irritatingly. Most role models depicted, whether in the forms of parents, spouses or professors, are men. Professors, especially, proliferate since doctorates are earned by many of the women. And often earned, it seems, without much juggling of responsibilities or financial hardship. While many of the women profiled knew struggle in both childhood and adulthood, the flat tone of the writing keeps readers from engaging emotionally. All these women could be—are—wonderful role models, and their stories could inspire, if only they were told with more passion. The most inspiration is found in the resources, notes and bibliography sections of the backmatter.

The book’s overall tone—that of a laundry list of accomplishments—does a disservice to readers who deserve to relate to and be inspired by these remarkable women. (Collective biography. 10-17)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61374-438-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A biography worthy of the larger-than-life Virginia Hamilton

VIRGINIA HAMILTON

AMERICA’S STORYTELLER

From the Biographies for Young Readers series

If the children you know think biographies are boring, this one will make them reconsider.

The tapestry of words Rubini weaves together brilliantly portrays the amazing, quirky, shy, frog-loving woman and extraordinary writer who was Virginia Hamilton. Since Hamilton constantly dipped into the well of her own family history for book details, Rubini wisely begins several generations back, with Hamilton’s enslaved great-grandmother Mary Cloud, who smuggled her son from Virginia to Ohio and delivered him to free relatives then disappeared. Descended from a long line of storytellers and “plain out-and-out liars,” Hamilton relied heavily on what she called Rememory, “an exquisitely textured recollection, real or imagined, which is otherwise indescribable.” Rubini traces Hamilton’s evolution from aspiring writer to becoming “the most honored author of children’s literature.” Hamilton received award after award and in 1975 became the first African-American winner of the coveted Newbery Medal. (To date, only three other African-Americans have won the Newbery.) Rubini’s biography entertains and informs in equal measure, and because she writes short paragraphs and highlights challenging words, young readers will find this a quick, accessible, and memorable read. Photographs and book covers punctuate the chapters, as do useful explanations of Hamilton’s historical context and impact. Rich backmatter will also make this a useful classroom text.

A biography worthy of the larger-than-life Virginia Hamilton . (Biography. 10-16)

Pub Date: June 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8214-2268-7

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Ohio Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2017

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Despite its not insignificant flaws, this book provides insights into the lives of important women, many of whom have...

SHE DID IT!

21 WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE WAY WE THINK

Caldecott Medalist McCully delves into the lives of extraordinary American women.

Beginning with the subject of her earlier biography Ida M. Tarbell (2014), McCully uses a chronological (by birth year) structure to organize her diverse array of subjects, each of whom is allotted approximately 10 pages. Lovely design enhances the text with a full-color portrait of each woman and small additional illustrations in the author/illustrator’s traditional style, plenty of white space, and spare use of dynamic colors. This survey provides greater depth than most, but even so, some topics go troublingly uncontextualized to the point of reinforcing stereotype: “In slavery, Black women had been punished for trying to improve their appearance. Now that they were free, many cared a great deal about grooming”; “President Roosevelt ordered all Japanese Americans on the West Coast to report to internment camps to keep them from providing aid to the enemy Japanese forces.” Of the 21 surveyed, one Japanese-American woman (Patsy Mink) is highlighted, as are one Latinx woman (Dolores Huerta), one Mohegan woman (Gladys Tantaquidgeon), three black women (Madam C.J. Walker, Ella Baker, and Shirley Chisholm), four out queer white women (Billie Jean King, Barbara Gittings, Jane Addams, and Isadora Duncan; the latter two’s sexualities are not discussed), two Jewish women (Gertrude Berg and Vera Rubin), and three women with known disabilities (Addams, Dorothea Lange, and Temple Grandin).

Despite its not insignificant flaws, this book provides insights into the lives of important women, many of whom have otherwise yet to be featured in nonfiction for young readers. (sources) (Collective biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-01991-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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