A powerful introduction to a little-known, very brave woman.

Henrietta Szold dedicated her entire life to aiding the most vulnerable.

As a young child she saw her mother and rabbi father helping escaped slaves in Civil War–era Baltimore. She felt a connection to the Purim holiday and a kinship with Queen Esther, who bravely saved the Jews from the evil Haman. Although women had few opportunities to be heard, Henrietta was determined to emulate Esther and make a difference in the world. She saw Jewish immigrants facing dire poverty and discrimination and took the first of many giant leaps. She opened a night school for immigrants to learn English, and she became the first editor of the Jewish Publication Society. She founded Hadassah—using Queen Esther’s Hebrew name—a women’s organization dedicated to raising funds to address hunger and disease among people of every faith in British-controlled Palestine, and established her own residence there. When Hitler came to power she worked tirelessly to rescue as many Jewish children as possible and, with the support of Hadassah, saved thousands. Churnin presents Szold’s accomplishments with careful attention to historical accuracy. The explanation of Hitler’s extreme actions to destroy all Jews is informative, cogent, and accessible to young readers. The author’s tone is admiring, stressing Szold’s determination, courage, and endless compassion and reiterating her connection to the lessons of Purim. Nayberg employs light and shadow with elongated figures to illustrate the events and express the entire range of emotions felt by Szold, the people with whom she worked, and those whose lives she affected.

A powerful introduction to a little-known, very brave woman. (author’s notes, timeline, bibliography, photo) (Picture book/biography. 8-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-939547-95-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021


An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy.

Through the author’s own childhood diary entries, a seventh grader details her inner life before and after 9/11.

Alyssa’s diary entries start in September 2000, in the first week of her seventh grade year. She’s 11 and dealing with typical preteen concerns—popularity and anxiety about grades—along with other things more particular to her own life. She’s shuffling between Queens and Manhattan to share time between her divorced parents and struggling with thick facial hair and classmates who make her feel like she’s “not a whole person” due to her mixed White and Puerto Rican heritage. Alyssa is endlessly earnest and awkward as she works up the courage to talk to her crush, Alejandro; gushes about her dreams of becoming a shoe designer; and tries to solve her burgeoning unibrow problem. The diaries also have a darker side, as a sense of impending doom builds as the entries approach 9/11, especially because Alyssa’s father works in finance in the World Trade Center. As a number of the diary entries are taken directly from the author’s originals, they effortlessly capture the loud, confusing feelings middle school brings out. The artwork, in its muted but effective periwinkle tones, lends a satisfying layer to the diary’s accessible and delightful format.

An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy. (author's note) (Graphic memoir. 8-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-77427-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021


From the They Did What? series

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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