Not many people know that Orville and Wilbur Wright had a third member of the team. Katharine, their younger sister, ran the house after their mother died and became her brothers’ social and business manager when their careers took flight. In this first authoritative biography of her life, much ground (and air) is covered. It’s the story of Kitty Hawk and flying machines and an opinionated young woman devoted to her father and brothers, who only later in life married and found personal happiness. Maurer does justice to this pivotal member of the famous family. Balancing the story of early flight with Katharine’s story, much is revealed about the role of women at the turn of the century and the restricted opportunities for education and careers. Katharine managed to receive a first-rate education at Oberlin College and became only the second woman elected to Oberlin’s board of trustees, where one of her causes was to have women faculty members paid the same as men. Though the print is undersized, the format and design are attractive, with many photographs capturing the drama of the Wrights’ lives. The text is competently written, and if the account doesn’t quite soar like Katharine’s brothers, it does clearly portray Katharine’s worldly concerns with career, marriage, and the care of her family. A bibliography is included, but without attribution of specific quotations and incidents and no sources for young readers. Nevertheless, this is an important biography of a woman who also had the Wright stuff. (author’s note, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7613-1546-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of.



Part browsing item, part therapy for the afflicted, this catalog of irrational terrors offers a little help along with a lot of pop psychology and culture.

The book opens with a clinical psychologist’s foreword and closes with a chapter of personal and professional coping strategies. In between, Latta’s alphabetically arranged encyclopedia introduces a range of panic-inducers from buttons (“koumpounophobia”) and being out of cellphone contact (“nomophobia”) to more widespread fears of heights (“acrophobia”), clowns (“coulroiphobia”) and various animals. There’s also the generalized “social anxiety disorder”—which has no medical name but is “just its own bad self.” As most phobias have obscure origins (generally in childhood), similar physical symptoms and the same approaches to treatment, the descriptive passages tend toward monotony. To counter that, the author chucks in references aplenty to celebrity sufferers, annotated lists of relevant books and (mostly horror) movies, side notes on “joke phobias” and other topics. At each entry’s end, she contributes a box of “Scare Quotes” such as a passage from Coraline for the aforementioned fear of buttons.

Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of. (end notes, resource list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-936976-49-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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A busy page design—artily superimposed text and photos, tinted portraits, and break-out boxes—and occasionally infelicitous writing (“Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie became . . . bandleader of the quintet at the Onyx Club, from which bebop got its name”) give this quick history of jazz a slapdash air, but Lee delves relatively deeply into the music’s direct and indirect African roots, then goes beyond the usual tedious tally of names to present a coherent picture of specific influences and innovations associated with the biggest names in jazz. A highly selective discography will give readers who want to become listeners a jump start; those seeking more background will want to follow this up with James Lincoln Collier’s Jazz (1997). (glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8239-1852-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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