Overall, a humorous, thoughtful demonstration that the path to writing isn’t always a straight line.

NO MAP, GREAT TRIP

A YOUNG WRITER’S ROAD TO PAGE ONE

The Newbery medalist offers a combination memoir and guide for aspiring writers.

As a young boy in 1962, Paul Fleischman, son of children’s author Sid Fleischman, is introduced to a larger world of storytelling with his shortwave radio. Listening to broadcasts from around the world opens him up to cultures beyond white suburban Santa Monica. As part of his father’s research for a book, the family purchases a printing press to be assembled at home, an experience that is an early influence on Paul’s road to becoming an author himself. One of his first experiments as a writer is an outlandish, rogue newspaper he and his fellow classmates produce and distribute under the radar of high school administrators. High school is followed by a spell of wanderlust, including a short stint at UC Berkeley and a bike ride up the West Coast to Vancouver that capriciously lands him first in New England and ultimately in Albuquerque. Vignettes with writing advice, sometimes only tangentially connected to the adjoining chapters, appear sporadically and jar the narrative. Fleischman’s story reads as a remarkably engaging memoir but less successfully as a writing tutorial. At times, cultural references may be lost on younger readers, such as roller derby, Shirley Temple, and Marxism, and they may wish for more context.

Overall, a humorous, thoughtful demonstration that the path to writing isn’t always a straight line. (Memoir. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-285745-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Trots in all the tropes except the cherry tree, but the rosy glow may not be misplaced considering his predecessor.

JOE BIDEN

A BIOGRAPHY FOR YOUNG READERS

A hagiographic portrait of the United States’ newest president-elect.

Gormley begins with Biden’s working-class origins, then retraces his development as a “natural leader” from roguish, family-centered senior class president to responsible and still family-centered national one. Focusing as she goes on values or character-revealing anecdotes and sound bites (including multiple early predictions that he would grow up to be president), she turns his father’s motto “if you get knocked down, get up” into a thematic mantra. Gormley portrays his career as a heroic march to the White House past both political challenges and wrenching personal tragedies. The author mixes frank accounts of the latter with heartwarming family stories like the time his sons, then 6 and 7, sat him down in 1976 and told him to marry Jill Jacobs. The author presents Biden’s early positions on, for instance, same-sex marriage or crime as either evolving or errors acknowledged in retrospect, dismisses allegations of sexual harassment, and frames his verbal gaffes as just foibles: “Obama was ‘the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.’ Oops. Joe Biden had spoken without thinking.” Side looks at relevant topics from trickle-down economics to the Electoral College inelegantly interrupt the text but serve to fill in some of the historical background, and the tactics and failures of the Trump administration, particularly to address the Covid-19 pandemic, get a good airing. The narrative ends the weekend after Election Day with an analysis of the challenges ahead. No illustrations or index were seen.

Trots in all the tropes except the cherry tree, but the rosy glow may not be misplaced considering his predecessor. (source notes) (Biography. 11-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7932-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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This inspiring book will encourage activism.

TOGETHER WE MARCH

25 PROTEST MOVEMENTS THAT MARCHED INTO HISTORY

Marching for the rights of all—children, Black people, women, Indigenous people, DREAMers, the LGBTQ+ community, disabled individuals, and many others—is explored in this history.

From the children who walked with Mother Jones from Pennsylvania to New York in 1903 to speak for better youth labor laws to the worldwide Youth Climate Strike in March 2019, all kinds of marches—many linked to children and youth—are described in lively language and illustrated with bright cartoons that emphasize diversity among participants and illustrate the banners and posters carried. Each two-page spread contains a short history of each march and the actions taken, set in dense type, along with one or two quotes from organizers. Some, like the Longest Walk, a 1978 march from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., undertaken by Indigenous people to bring attention to 11 Congressional bills that threatened sovereignty, were weeks or months long. Widely known events like the recent Women’s March in January 2017 and actions known only to a few historians, like the 1943 march of Bulgarian Jews against the Holocaust, receive equal treatment. Connections among marches and themes repeated due to unchanging social and political conditions are pointed out and are one of the book’s strengths. The visually appealing last spread shows a timeline of each event placed on a long winding road. There is neither a table of contents nor an index, but the information presented is accessible and should really be read straight through for greatest impact. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 27.3% of actual size.)

This inspiring book will encourage activism. (sources, further reading) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4270-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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