ELEANOR ROOSEVELT AND THE AMERICAN EXPERIMENT

Arthurdale, West Virginia, is the site of an important social-engineering project initiated by Eleanor Roosevelt. Designed to improve the lives of coal miners and their families who were suffering from the economic effects of the Great Depression, the planned community included farms, homes, schools, shops, and medical facilities. The government bought the land with the understanding that the residents would homestead it and repay the loan after achieving a self-sustaining community. The community and others like it were to be models for eliminating poverty. Roosevelt’s pioneering effort in community-building offers an interesting commentary on how government support made a difference in people’s lives but could not resolve their economic or social problems. It was Roosevelt herself who entered peoples’ homes, engaged them in conversation, brought modern educational methods into the school, and made a lasting impression on the people she touched. Hoffman’s debut effort weaves the historical context of Arthurdale with a biographical approach to Eleanor Roosevelt’s life and personality. She attempts to capture and recreate the spirit of the times by quotations of former residents describing their lives in the town. However, the story never quite comes alive. The voices of the townspeople are not connected in a seamless narrative that pulls the reader into what should be a dynamic piece of historical writing. The biographical information is necessarily sketchy and sometimes superfluous. Black-and-white historical photos illustrate the text. Notes, bibliography, and an index are included. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-208-02504-9

Page Count: 110

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...

TWO MEN AND A CAR

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AL CAPONE, AND A CADILLAC V-8

A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Wheeler offers a scrapbook-style travelogue of her seven-month stint on the world’s coldest continent.  Letters to her...

GREETINGS FROM ANTARCTICA

            In an eye-opening companion to such works as Jennifer Armstrong’s Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World (1999) and Elizabeth Cody Kimmel’s Ice Story (p.  66) on Shackleton, readers get a contemporary look at Antarctica.

            Wheeler offers a scrapbook-style travelogue of her seven-month stint on the world’s coldest continent.  Letters to her godson, Daniel, describe a harsh environment so cold that dental fillings fall out.  Double-page spreads dotted with full-color snapshots form short chapters on the icy region, suiting up, the difficulties of everyday existence, food and drink, shelter, transportation, entertainment, and wildlife.  The last third of the volume is devoted to current scientific pursuits as well as an overview of famous expeditions to the nearly uninhabitable “bottom of the planet.”  The cheery photographs – most by the author – show her dwarfed by the Barne glacier, posing with Emperor penguins, even building an igloo.  While the chatty letters highlight personal details of the trip, boxed inserts provide background information.  Key dates in Antarctic history complete this accessible profile, ideal as entry into units on the region.  (maps, charts, diagrams, further reading, index)  (Nonfiction.  8-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-87226-295-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1999

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