The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...



A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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In no particular order and using no set criteria for his selections, veteran sportscaster Berman pays tribute to an arbitrary gallery of baseball stars—all familiar names and, except for the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, retired from play for decades. Repeatedly taking the stance that statistics are just numbers but then reeling off batting averages, home-run totals, wins (for pitchers) and other data as evidence of greatness, he offers career highlights in a folksy narrative surrounded by photos, side comments and baseball-card–style notes in side boxes. Readers had best come to this with some prior knowledge, since he casually drops terms like “slugging percentage,” “dead ball era” and “barnstorming” without explanation and also presents a notably superficial picture of baseball’s history—placing the sport’s “first half-century” almost entirely in the 1900s, for instance, and condescendingly noting that Jackie Robinson’s skill led Branch Rickey to decide that he “was worthy of becoming the first black player to play in the majors.” The awesome feats of Ruth, Mantle, the Gibsons Bob and Josh, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and the rest are always worth a recap—but this one’s strictly minor league. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4022-3886-4

Page Count: 138

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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This broad take on “firsts” is unusually rich in lesser-known figures and feats.



From the Who Did It First? series

A crew of achievers, mostly of recent vintage, STEAMs up to provide inspiration and role modeling.

Leung includes outliers Isaac Newton and 18th-century professor Maria Gaetana Agnesi in her gallery, but she favors figures of the past two centuries—all of whom made at least some contribution in science, technology, engineering, the arts, or mathematics that can be classified a “first.” Seventeen of the profiles are just thumbnails, gathered into two inserted chapters; the others each receive a full-page tribute that focuses less on biographical detail than on the highlighted achievement. Some of the firsts are so hung about with qualifiers that they at least seem only marginally significant (Jennifer Yuh Nelson: “The first woman to solely direct an animated feature from a major Hollywood studio, 2011”). Most, however, merit huzzahs (Mary Golda Ross: “The first female engineer for Lockheed, 1942,” and a member of the Cherokee Nation to boot), and many are likely to be new to young readers. Each entry features a motivational quote or two, some of which occupy entire pages of their own, and, from Kuhwald, a stylized but easily recognizable portrait placed in an evocative setting. The roster earns high marks for diversity, as it includes 36 women and 20 people of color or who identify as Latinx.

This broad take on “firsts” is unusually rich in lesser-known figures and feats. (timeline, illustrator’s note, resource list) (Collective biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-21171-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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