Very fine indeed.

READ REVIEW

BRAVE GIRL

CLARA AND THE SHIRTWAIST MAKERS' STRIKE OF 1909

A sparkling picture-book biography of the dauntless organizer of the titular strike.

Immigrant Clara Lemlich was tiny and spoke little English, but she not only worked to support her family in a factory that made women’s clothing, but read and studied at night. When the male workers talked about a strike to protest their fearsome working conditions, they thought the girls weren’t strong enough to join them. But it was Clara who finally—in Yiddish—called for a general strike. She was arrested 17 times and beaten, but the strike won the right to unionize for workers in many factories (but not the Triangle Waist Factory, whose gruesome fire claimed 146 lives in 1911). Markel’s text is well-supported by Sweet’s watercolor, gouache and mixed-media images, some clearly based on archival photographs. What catches the heart are the bits of stitching on cloth ribbons that outline or accent some of the pages and the sweet, determined faces of these girls. They were girls indeed, some as young as 12, most in their teens and early 20s. A bibliography of primary and secondary sources and a note about the garment industry fills in some more background, including Clara’s further work in the labor movement, and the fact that 70 percent of the workers were between 16 and 25 and that most were Eastern European Jews and Italians.

Very fine indeed. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-180442-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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