About time these heroes got the attention they deserved for a young audience.

READ REVIEW

NAVY SEAL DOGS

MY TALE OF TRAINING CANINES FOR COMBAT

Special force SEALS are elite enough, but SEAL dogs are a breed apart.

Author Ritland was a SEAL for many years, training and handling SEAL dogs, and first told about his training routines and exploits in his book for adults, Trident K9 Warriors (2013). This book is a special retelling for young readers. In solid, yeomanly prose, Ritland and Gary Brozek, uncredited, bring readers through the training process; these are dogs schooled to the nth degree in nonlethal force. They also spend a good amount of time with Brett (a 12-year Navy SEAL veteran—last names are rarely used in SEAL literature) and dog Chopper in Ritland’s current work with the nonprofit Warrior Dog Foundation, which hopes “to make certain that retired [military working dogs] are able to live out the remainder of their lives in a positive environment.” Great details come to the fore, such as fascinating stuff on “tells,” that is when a dog signals that this or that is happening, and just what a dog bite can do to human flesh. There is even a positive note on George W. Bush’s weapons-of-mass-destruction fiasco—it prompted the formation of an elite K-9 unit. (Photos not seen.)

About time these heroes got the attention they deserved for a young audience. (Nonfiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-04182-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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SMILE FOR THE CAMERA

This completely absorbing memoir follows the author from age 16, when she escaped from an abusive home in the late 1970s to become a model in New York City. Although Kelle ultimately succeeds, her path from squalor to security takes her through more abusive relationships, homelessness and a sensational murder trial. Kelle is one scrappy girl, though. With a few good friends and the timely kindness of strangers, she survives. This is a cautionary story to those who dream of similar runs to fame. James pulls no punches in her descriptions of the sexual and physical abuse she suffered at the hands of predatory men in the city and in flashback memories of her violent father. She describes a sexual attack and doesn’t shy away from innuendo in her characters’ dialogue. Stark in its honesty, the book propels readers forward with a sense of suspense worthy of a thriller. James bares her former adolescent soul and proudly celebrates her toughness, while owning up to her mistakes as well. Compelling and fascinating—a striking debut. (Memoir. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0623-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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A revealing and absorbing journey through dance classes and competitions to success.

TAKING FLIGHT

FROM WAR ORPHAN TO STAR BALLERINA

Dancing becomes a dream fulfilled.

She is born Mabinty Bangura in Sierra Leone during the Harmattan, a season of Saharan winds. Despite her vitiligo, a skin condition causing spotting, her parents love and nurture her. In 1991, civil war destroys that life, as “debil” (rebel + devil) soldiers bring destruction and the deaths of her parents. A white couple from America adopts her from an orphanage, and Mabinty, now Michaela, leaves starvation and atrocities behind—but not the nightmares. A magazine cover of a ballerina gives her a dream of dancing on stage in tutus and toe shoes, and her American family encourages that dream with classes and attendance at performances. Unfortunately, American racism also becomes part of her life in shopping malls and at ballet schools. With incredible perseverance, family support and talent, Michaela succeeds: She is now dancing with the Dutch National Ballet. She has been a media star and was one of six dancers featured in the 2012 documentary First Position. Readers will find her life story gripping whether or not they are dance fans. The dialogue is fictionalized, but the heart of the journey resonates in this mother/daughter collaboration.

A revealing and absorbing journey through dance classes and competitions to success. (Memoir. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-75511-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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