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In 1833, a German prince, Maximilian of Wied (1782-1867), hired the young Swiss artist Karl Bodmer (1809-93) and set out with him to study Native Americans. They wintered with the Mandans in what is now North Dakota; Maximilian spent the next four years editing his extensive journals, producing a book illustrated with engravings that Bodmer made from his own paintings (which were then sent to Wied, where they stayed until 1962; they're now in a museum in Omaha). Quoting extensively from Maximilian's account, Freedman describes the journey and, especially, the Mandans and Hidatsas as Maximilian found them: their customs, artifacts, social structure, and the individuals who became their close friends. Bodmer's paintings and sketches—landscapes, portraits, and active scenes—appear on almost every double spread, occasionally varied with his engravings or other illustrations, e.g., self-portraits by Mandan friends who were interested in Bodmer's technique. The book closes with the Indians' later history (these tribes were devastated by smallpox in 1837) and five "Places to Visit." As he has clone so often, most recently in The Wright Brothers (1992 Newbery Honor), Freedman combines a lucid, gracefully written, impeccably authentic text with beautifully chosen historical illustrations in a handsome and fascinating book; the result here is especially compelling because the material will be new to most readers. Another splendid achievement. (Nonfiction. 10+)

Pub Date: April 15, 1992

ISBN: 0-8234-0930-9

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1992

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From the They Did What? series

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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A detailed, absorbing picture of Chinese-American culture in the 50's and 60's, of particular interest to Yep's many...

In a strong debut for the new "In My Own Words" series, the author of The Star Fisher (see below) portrays his own youth.

Brought up in San Francisco, where his parents managed for years to defend a mom-and-pop grocery against an increasingly rough non-Chinese neighborhood, Yep went to Chinatown to attend a Catholic school and to visit his grandmother. Always aware of belonging to several cultures, he is a keen observer who began early to "keep a file of family history" and who tellingly reveals how writing fiction, honestly pursued, can lead to new insights: in putting his own "mean" teacher into one book, he began for the first time to understand her viewpoint. He divides his account topically, rather than chronologically, with chapters on the store, Chinatown, family tradition, being an outsider, etc., concluding with his college years ("Culture Shock") and some later experiences especially related to his writing. Always, Yep is trying to integrate his many "pieces" ("raised in a black neighborhood...too American to fit into Chinatown and too Chinese to fit in elsewhere...the clumsy son of the athletic family..."), until he discovers that writing transforms him "from being a puzzle to a puzzle solver."

A detailed, absorbing picture of Chinese-American culture in the 50's and 60's, of particular interest to Yep's many admirers or would-be writers. (Autobiography. 11-15)

Pub Date: May 1, 1991

ISBN: 0688137016

Page Count: 117

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991

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