Ada’s courage in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds makes for a worthy read.

Determined to raise money to provide medical care for her tubercular son, 23-year-old Alaska Native Ada Blackjack accompanied four white explorers on an expedition to settle uninhabited Wrangel Island, far off the coast of Alaska, in August 1921.

Encouraged by the man who planned the mission—but did not join it—the intrepid group brought along inadequate supplies and demonstrated poor understanding of the peril posed by the island’s harsh winter. With supplies nearly gone and a second difficult winter looming, three of the men attempted to hike out over the pack ice but were never seen again. The fourth man, suffering from scurvy, was nursed by Ada but died at winter’s end. Ada learned survival techniques and managed until her rescue, two years after the expedition began. Using diaries (including Ada’s) and other notes the five explorers left, Caravantes provides a riveting description of their ordeal, but it is the nature of the story more than the telling of it that sustains interest. Prose is occasionally awkward and sometimes repetitious. Among the profusion of fact boxes that interrupt the flow of the narrative are many that relate to it only tangentially. However, these flaws fail to derail the effort. Caravantes explains her use of the term “Eskimo” as based on contemporary usage but fails to specifically identify Blackjack’s heritage.

Ada’s courage in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds makes for a worthy read. (endnotes, black-and-white photos, source information) (Biography. 11-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61373-098-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016


A must-read reminder that transformation is made possible through community.

Explores historical threads of race, faith, and family as they weave together in the transformation of youthful, imprisoned Malcolm Little into empowered, purpose-driven Malcolm X.

Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, partners with rising literary star Jackson to explore 20-something Malcolm’s growth through reading, debate, and dialogue. This dedication and rediscovery of purpose, made manifest through newfound faith, would catapult him to the global stage as the chief spokesman for the Nation of Islam under the tutelage of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Refusing to establish his transformation as the marker of an unjust prison system’s rehabilitation strategy, this fictionalized retelling spotlights the relationships, perspectives, lessons, and questions delivered by Black men imprisoned around him and the critical embrace of a family that never abandoned him. “Wake up, Malcolm” is a cue that resounds throughout, linking the familial legacy of Malcolm’s parents, who held ties to ministry and served roles in the racial uplift mission of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association. Readers will make connections to persistent injustices faced by Black communities—and the beautiful ways which, despite that terror, Black families have found to craft visions of freedom and lives of dignity and love. This novel showcases the ways that becoming is a social process requiring care, commitment, and community but is ultimately world-changing work.

A must-read reminder that transformation is made possible through community. (more information, timeline, Malcolm X’s reading list, authors’ note) (Biographical novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-31329-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020


Ephemeral—unlike the art here (some of it, at least) and those fondly remembered little books.

Chicken soup for fans of Golden Books, from the line’s editorial director.

Reasoning that hard times have come to America (“The chickens have come home to roost, and their names are Debt, Depression, and Diabetes”), Muldrow offers this book as palliative. She gathers single illustrations from 61 Little Golden Books and adds pithy captions as anodynes, such as “Don’t panic…” (beneath Tibor Gergely’s 1948 image of a dismayed child holding detached braids) or “Have some pancakes” (Richard Scarry, 1949). Though some of her advice has a modern inflection (“Don’t forget your antioxidants!”), the pictures all come from titles published between 1942 and 1964 and so, despite the great diversity of artistic styles, have a quaint period look. Not to mention quaint period values, from views of apron-wearing housewives and pipe-smoking men (or bears) to, with but two exceptions, an all-white cast of humans. Furthermore, despite the title’s implication, the exhortations don’t always reflect the original story’s lesson or theme; rather than “Make a budget—and stick to it!” the lad in Miriam Young’s 5 Pennies To Spend (illustrated by Corinne Malvern, 1955) actually used his hoard to help others in need.

Ephemeral—unlike the art here (some of it, at least) and those fondly remembered little books. (Picture book. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-97761-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Golden Books/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

Close Quickview