A sweet, satisfying memoir about family bonds and finding one’s place in the world.




Picture-book author Uhlberg (A Storm Called Katrina, illus. by Colin Bootman, 2015, etc.) tells his story of growing up with Deaf parents in Depression-era Brooklyn.

Evoking a pleasant nostalgia with its strong sense of place, the episodic narrative follows Myron Uhlberg, a young, white Jewish boy, and his family from Myron’s birth to the day he leaves for college. Through anecdotes both funny and poignant, the author explores his complex relationship with his father. Forced to act as an interpreter by the age of 5, Myron feels trapped between the worlds of child and adult as well as Deaf and hearing. This dilemma leads to both humor and pain as Myron navigates the considerable responsibility. The author presents a nuanced portrayal of Deaf life. Myron’s main link to the Deaf world is his parents, but other Deaf adults make appearances, hinting at a spectrum of Deaf experiences. The author’s decision to write his Deaf parents’ speech phonetically could be prejudicial for readers who lack further context, and there is the occasional biased cliché of disability and culture (due to their deafness, he claims his parents’ sole source of entertainment is books; seeing a friend in an iron lung causes him to reassess his self-pity). Additionally, in contrast to the author’s first memoir, Hands of My Father (2009), published for adults, the title of this adaptation feels like a trite appeal to hearing readers. However, the warmth, love, and playfulness of the narrative prevail.

A sweet, satisfying memoir about family bonds and finding one’s place in the world. (Memoir. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3146-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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



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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An important glimpse into the early civil rights movement.



Kanefield tells the story of Barbara Rose Johns, whose fight for equality in the schools of Farmville, Va., went all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

In 1950, 15-year-old Barbara Johns was a junior at the all-black Robert R. Moton High School in rural Virginia, a crowded school using temporary classrooms that were little more than tar paper shacks, more like chicken coops than classrooms, with leaky roofs and potbellied stoves that provided little heat. Farmville High School, the white school, was a modern building with up-to-date facilities. Sick of the disparity, Barbara led a strike, demanding equal facilities in the schools of her town. Her actions drew the usual response from the white community: cross-burnings, white stores denying credit to black customers and criticism for their “ill-advised” actions. Although threats caused Barbara’s parents to send her to live with family in Alabama, where she graduated from high school, the Moton students’ case was eventually bundled with others, including Brown v. Board of Education. In an attractive volume full of archival photographs, informative sidebars and a clearly written text, Kanefield shares an important though little-known story of the movement. A one-page summary of “The Birth of the Civil Rights Movement” and a civil rights timeline connect Barbara’s story to the larger struggle; sadly, the bibliography offers no mention of the many fine volumes available for young readers who will want to know more.

An important glimpse into the early civil rights movement. (author’s note, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0796-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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