Using contemporary newspaper clippings and headlines as well as photographs that capture vivid historical moments, Colman offers an overview of a subject too often neglected in children’s biography. These are the valiant and defiant women writers and photographers who ignored slights, harassment, and—sometimes direct—orders, to get to the front and do their jobs. Martha Gellhorn covered the Spanish Civil War before her work in WWII, her writing better known than that of her husband, Ernest Hemingway. “I was a great frequenter of hospitals,” she wrote, “because that is where you see what war really costs.” Lee Carson, forbidden to cover D-Day because of her gender, did so anyway, and her dispatch was perhaps the first. Dickey Chapelle took photographs at Iwo Jima, thinking the buzzing sounds about her were insects—they were bullets, and she was under fire. Chapelle died stepping on a land mine in Vietnam in 1965. Margaret Bourke-White photographed the living and the dead at the concentration camp at Buchenwald. Colman covers 18 women; the only place she falters is in the coda that explains what happened to each woman after the war. Death dates and more information would have been welcome. The light of Colman’s bright prose brings these women to the front once again, and young readers and researchers will be astonished and delighted at their bravery. (bibliography, photo credits, index, not seen) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-517-80075-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2001



A beautiful, powerful reflection on a tragic history.

In spare verse, Lowry reflects on moments in her childhood, including the bombings of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. 

When she was a child, Lowry played at Waikiki Beach with her grandmother while her father filmed. In the old home movie, the USS Arizona appears through the mist on the horizon. Looking back at her childhood in Hawaii and then Japan, Lowry reflects on the bombings that began and ended a war and how they affected and connected everyone involved. In Part 1, she shares the lives and actions of sailors at Pearl Harbor. Part 2 is stories of civilians in Hiroshima affected by the bombing. Part 3 presents her own experience as an American in Japan shortly after the war ended. The poems bring the haunting human scale of war to the forefront, like the Christmas cards a sailor sent days before he died or the 4-year-old who was buried with his red tricycle after Hiroshima. All the personal stories—of sailors, civilians, and Lowry herself—are grounding. There is heartbreak and hope, reminding readers to reflect on the past to create a more peaceful future. Lowry uses a variety of poetry styles, identifying some, such as triolet and haiku. Pak’s graphite illustrations are like still shots of history, adding to the emotion and somber feeling. He includes some sailors of color among the mostly white U.S. forces; Lowry is white.

A beautiful, powerful reflection on a tragic history. (author’s note, bibliography) (Memoir/poetry. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-12940-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020



Using illustrations from mid-19th-century newspapers and stories of people actually involved, Bartoletti has written a fascinating account of a terrible time. In the Great Irish Famine, one million people died from starvation and disease, and two million fled to other countries after a fungus destroyed the potato crop, a disaster in a country where six million farm laborers depended on that one crop. Bartoletti’s sure storytelling instincts put the reader in the midst of the drama. Though the layout is dense and uninviting (in galley form), the stories make the narrative memorable. Bridget O’Donnel, sick and seven months pregnant, is evicted from her cabin. “Spectre-like” crowds of walking skeletons in Skibbereen on market day see shops full of food they can’t afford to buy. British Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel’s determination to persuade the government to help is thwarted by laissez-faire economic policies and religious and ethnic prejudice. This is history “through the eyes and memories of the Irish people,” and it is history that’s meant to instruct. In her conclusion and extensive bibliography, Bartoletti steps back from her narrative to encourage readers to respond to the hunger, poverty, and human suffering in our own time. An illuminating discussion of the Great Irish Famine and how emigrants contributed to the growth of cities around the world. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-00271-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2001

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