This comprehensive but pedestrian biography will be fairly useful for school reports but is unlikely to inspire 21st-century...

UNION MADE

LABOR LEADER SAMUEL GOMPERS AND HIS FIGHT FOR WORKERS' RIGHTS

A biography of Samuel Gompers, leader of the American Federation of Labor.

A Jewish immigrant, Gompers had learned cigar-making in his London home and continued to work at this trade as an adult in the U.S. His interest in unions sprang from his experiences with fraternal organizations and his growing convictions that “the only way to improve working conditions was peacefully within the capitalist system.” In 1881, Gompers helped found the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada (later reorganized into the AFL), which promoted the eight-hour day, limitations on child and convict labor, cash payments for salaries, and strict immigration laws, a policy that Gompers strongly believed in and the irony of which receives scant comment from Finkelstein. In this fact-filled but interpretation-light account, Sam Gompers was a workaholic and a person who loved public speaking. Readers get little sense of Gompers as a person, and they may struggle with his dismissive attitude toward unskilled workers, his realpolitik approach to race, and his hypocrisy toward immigrants. There is excellent research here, but the lackluster writing, the double-column format, and the hazy quality of some of the black-and-white archival photos produce an unexciting volume; some gaps in the index further limit its use.

This comprehensive but pedestrian biography will be fairly useful for school reports but is unlikely to inspire 21st-century labor activists. (author’s note, timeline, source notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 11-14)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62979-638-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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Macy wheels out another significant and seldom explored chapter in women’s history.

MOTOR GIRLS

HOW WOMEN TOOK THE WHEEL AND DROVE BOLDLY INTO THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Well-documented proof that, when it came to early automobiles, it wasn’t just men who took the wheel.

Despite relentlessly flashy page design that is more distracting than otherwise and a faint typeface sure to induce eyestrain, this companion to Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (2011) chronicles decided shifts in gender attitudes and expectations as it puts women (American women, mostly) behind the wheel in the first decades of the 20th century. Sidebar profiles and features, photos, advertisements, and clippings from contemporary magazines and newspapers festoon a revved-up narrative that is often set in angular blocks for added drama. Along with paying particular attention to women who went on the road to campaign for the vote and drove ambulances and other motor vehicles during World War I, Macy recounts notable speed and endurance races, and she introduces skilled drivers/mechanics such as Alice Ramsey and Joan Newton Cuneo. She also diversifies the predominantly white cast with nods to Madam C.J. Walker, her daughter, A’Lelia (both avid motorists), and the wartime Colored Women’s Motor Corps. An intro by Danica Patrick, checklists of “motoring milestones,” and an extended account of an 1895 race run and won by men do more for the page count than the overall story—but it’s nonetheless a story worth the telling.

Macy wheels out another significant and seldom explored chapter in women’s history. (index, statistics, source notes, annotated reading list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2697-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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If readers can make sense of this story, they’re likely able to tackle the original instead.

THE PERFECT HORSE

THE DARING RESCUE OF HORSES KIDNAPPED DURING WORLD WAR II

Letts adapts her bestselling 2016 work of the same title for young readers.

As World War II sweeps across Europe, the fates of several master horsemen become entwined. In Poland, Andrzej Kristalovich, head of the national stud farm, sees his life’s work disappear when Russian soldiers capture his horses. Nazi Germans, invading next, restore some of the animals in order to breed them for the Third Reich. Meanwhile, in Vienna, Olympic medalist Alois Podhajsky is desperately trying to care for the Lipizzan stallions at the famed Spanish Riding School even as the invading Germans capture the Lipizzan stud farms and move most of the horses to Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile, at an American Army base in Kansas, Maj. Hank Reed is overseeing the cavalry’s transition from horses, no longer useful in warfare, to mechanized vehicles. These threads come together at the end of the war when Reed orchestrates a complex rescue of both sets of horses. This is not a particularly successful adaptation. It’s shorter than the original, but both the storyline and timeline are fragmented, making it difficult for the putative audience of 8- to 12-year-olds to follow, and extraneous details fail to advance the main narrative. Aside from a map and archival images (both not seen), there is no timeline or other visual aid to help organize the narrative. Characters are all white.

If readers can make sense of this story, they’re likely able to tackle the original instead. (author’s note, characters, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-64474-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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