A riveting tribute to epic tests of men against the elements.

RACE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE EARTH

SURVIVING ANTARCTICA

Analytical accounts of two historic firsts that bookend nearly a century of Antarctic exploration: reaching the South Pole and crossing the entire continent alone and on foot.

That both outings turned into races adds almost superfluous drama: Neither Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott in 1911 nor Colin O’Brady and Lou Rudd in 2018 knew long beforehand that they would be in direct competition. All four expeditions faced the same deadly natural challenges, from frigid 50-mile-an-hour winds to whiteouts and treacherous ice ripples called sastrugi. But what really stands out in the storylines that Barone moves along in parallel are the huge differences in survival techniques and gear—even as the lack of wireless equipment, for instance, kills Scott and his companions, Rudd slogs along listening to audiobooks and O’Brady phones Paul Simon for a chat. The author points out other differences too, such as the contrast between Amundsen’s narrow motive to be first to the pole (the North Pole, originally, switched at the last moment after learning that Robert Peary had already gotten there) and Scott’s broader geological and scientific interests. She punctuates her narratives with maps, photos, and paired quotes from her four subjects, and she positively shovels endnotes and source references into the backmatter. The otherwise all-White, all male cast is relieved only by brief mentions of wives and latter-day women explorers and of Amundsen’s Netsilik Inuit advisers.

A riveting tribute to epic tests of men against the elements. (index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-25780-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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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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