Readers of either edition will be in for a grand, inspiring, sometimes hilarious ride.

SPACEMAN

THE TRUE STORY OF A YOUNG BOY'S JOURNEY TO BECOMING AN ASTRONAUT (ADAPTED FOR YOUNG READERS)

A 2016 memoir from the first astronaut to tweet from space, lightly tweaked for younger readers.

Along with some reworking of the prose, Massimino drops chapters on his father’s death and his schooling in NASA fundraising and media relations. As a result, though this edition isn’t significantly shorter or easier to read than the original, his valorization of teamwork, maintaining a positive attitude, and overcoming past struggles and reverses through determination play out less in his private life than in his roller-coaster ride through school, astronaut training, and two missions into space. Fortunately, he also paints vivid word pictures, whether capturing the heady experience of playing with an Astronaut Snoopy as a child (“I still have him, only now he’s been to space for real”) or, memorably, the removal of what he repeatedly describes as “111 very tiny screws” from a failed device on the Hubble Space Telescope. Readers will feel his profound shock, but also relief, upon learning (in a segment pointedly titled “Russian Roulette”) that the shuttle Columbia had come apart upon reentry on the mission just after his. Yes, he writes, it’s very nearly impossible to become an astronaut, but: “I wanted to grow up to be Spider-Man—and I did.” Photo illustrations not seen.

Readers of either edition will be in for a grand, inspiring, sometimes hilarious ride. (Autobiography. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12086-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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THE CIVIL WAR AT SEA

In this companion to Portraits of War: Civil War Photographers and Their Work (1998), Sullivan presents an album of the prominent ships and men who fought on both sides, matched to an engrossing account of the war's progress: at sea, on the Mississippi, and along the South's well-defended coastline. In his view, the issue never was in doubt, for though the Confederacy fought back with innovative ironclads, sleek blockade runners, well-armed commerce raiders, and sturdy fortifications, from the earliest stages the North was able to seal off, and then take, one major southern port after another. The photos, many of which were made from fragile glass plates whose survival seems near-miraculous, are drawn from private as well as public collections, and some have never been published before. There aren't any action shots, since mid-19th-century photography required very long exposure times, but the author compensates with contemporary prints, plus crisp battle accounts, lucid strategic overviews, and descriptions of the technological developments that, by war's end, gave this country a world-class navy. He also profiles the careers of Matthew Brady and several less well-known photographers, adding another level of interest to a multi-stranded survey. (source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7613-1553-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Millbrook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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Trots in all the tropes except the cherry tree, but the rosy glow may not be misplaced considering his predecessor.

JOE BIDEN

A BIOGRAPHY FOR YOUNG READERS

A hagiographic portrait of the United States’ newest president-elect.

Gormley begins with Biden’s working-class origins, then retraces his development as a “natural leader” from roguish, family-centered senior class president to responsible and still family-centered national one. Focusing as she goes on values or character-revealing anecdotes and sound bites (including multiple early predictions that he would grow up to be president), she turns his father’s motto “if you get knocked down, get up” into a thematic mantra. Gormley portrays his career as a heroic march to the White House past both political challenges and wrenching personal tragedies. The author mixes frank accounts of the latter with heartwarming family stories like the time his sons, then 6 and 7, sat him down in 1976 and told him to marry Jill Jacobs. The author presents Biden’s early positions on, for instance, same-sex marriage or crime as either evolving or errors acknowledged in retrospect, dismisses allegations of sexual harassment, and frames his verbal gaffes as just foibles: “Obama was ‘the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.’ Oops. Joe Biden had spoken without thinking.” Side looks at relevant topics from trickle-down economics to the Electoral College inelegantly interrupt the text but serve to fill in some of the historical background, and the tactics and failures of the Trump administration, particularly to address the Covid-19 pandemic, get a good airing. The narrative ends the weekend after Election Day with an analysis of the challenges ahead. No illustrations or index were seen.

Trots in all the tropes except the cherry tree, but the rosy glow may not be misplaced considering his predecessor. (source notes) (Biography. 11-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7932-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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