A top-shelf rendition of one of the greatest survival stories to come out of the Age of Exploration.

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    Best Books Of 2014

SHACKLETON

ANTARCTIC ODYSSEY

With just a hint of artistic license, a retelling in graphic form of the ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-17.

Keeping readers oriented with maps and dates that heighten the drama (if it were possible), Bertozzi introduces Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic career with glimpses of early ventures in 1901 and 1907. He then provides a captioned portrait gallery of each member of the expedition, including the dogs, before going on to retrace in detail the course and fate of the ship Endurance, which was trapped in ice and eventually crushed. The exhausting, monthslong trek over rough ice and treacherous waters to reach a rescue point takes up most of the book. The author places figures drawn with a fine pen within small but easily legible panels, and he uses a color scheme of black, white and a midtone gray that effectively captures the Antarctic’s alien, implacable harshness. His tale is infused, though, with both humor (“My posterior is chafed thoroughly from cleaning with ice,” complains an expedition member, pulling up his trousers) and a strong sense of the stiff-upper-lip camaraderie that, along with Shackleton’s outstanding leadership, kept the expedition together and led, against all odds, to the survival of its every (human) member.

A top-shelf rendition of one of the greatest survival stories to come out of the Age of Exploration. (source list) (Graphic historical fiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: June 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59643-451-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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Give this a pass: much clearer pictures of what DNA does and the strong personalities who were involved in winkling out its...

THEY CHANGED THE WORLD

CRICK & WATSON—THE DISCOVERY OF DNA

From the Campfire Heroes series

The story of the discovery of the structure of DNA, in graphic format.

Failing to take advantage of either the format or the historic search’s drama, this rendition presents a portentous account heavy on explication and melodramatic rhetoric and featuring a cast of grimacing or pinched-looking figures spouting wooden dialogue. Watson: “So if we combine our research with Rosalind’s data and…” Crick: “And Linus’s approach of building models. We might be able to figure this out.” Helfand diffuses the focus by paying nearly as much attention to the childhoods and early careers of Linus Pauling, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin as he does to Watson and Crick but downplays the rivalries that drove the race. Also, for all the technical detail he injects (“the phosphates would have to be on the outside”) and further explanations in the back, readers will be left in the dark about the role of genes, how DNA actually works, or even the significance of its double helix structure. A closing note about the contributions of Indian-born Nobelist Har Gobind Khorana adds a note of diversity to the all-white cast.

Give this a pass: much clearer pictures of what DNA does and the strong personalities who were involved in winkling out its secrets are available. (Graphic nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-93-81182-21-5

Page Count: 92

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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An important story drowned in illegibility and exposition.

FORGIVENESS

THE STORY OF EVA KOR, SURVIVOR OF THE AUSCHWITZ TWIN EXPERIMENTS

A biography, in comic form, of a survivor of Josef Mengele’s horrific experiments on twins.

Eva and Miriam Mozes are twins, born in 1934 to the only Jewish family in their Romanian village. Though Papa, fearing the antisemitism of interwar Romania, wants the family to flee to safety in Palestine, Mama argues against it. And so it is that they are still in Romania when their home is invaded by Hitler’s ally, Hungary. Following an all-too-familiar story, the Mozes family is sent first to the ghetto and then on to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Torn away from their family, the girls are brought to Mengele for his nightmarish twin experiments. The graphic form mercifully makes it difficult to provide much detail of the stomach-churning tortures Mengele inflicted on those he found lesser, though the blocky illustrations certainly feature starvation, death, and disease. After the girls are liberated by the Soviets, they begin the second part of their ordeal: living with their trauma. Two extremely dense chapters detail the next 74 years, eventually building to the journey Eva would take late in her life toward liberating herself by forgiving the Nazis. This overstuffed survivor tale owes less to Maus than it does to the For Beginners series of graphic nonfiction. Dense blocks of historical play-by-play, ungainly prose, and hard-to-read lettering make this a slog.

An important story drowned in illegibility and exposition. (Graphic biography. 13-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68435-178-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Red Lightning Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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