It’s an often-told story, but the author is still in a position to give it a unique perspective.

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JACKIE ROBINSON

AMERICAN HERO

The author of Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America (2004) tells her father’s tale again, for younger readers.

Though using a less personal tone this time and referring to herself in the third person, Robinson still devotes as much attention to his family life, youth and post-baseball career as she does to his achievements on the field. Writing in short sentences and simple language, she presents a clear picture of the era’s racial attitudes and the pressures he faced both in the military service and in baseball—offering plenty of clear reasons to regard him not just as a champion athlete, but as a hero too. An early remark about how he ran with “a bunch of black, Japanese, and Mexican boys” while growing up in Pasadena is insensitively phrased, and a sweeping claim that by 1949 “[t]he racial tension was broken” in baseball is simplistic. Nevertheless, by and large her account covers the bases adequately. The many photos include an admixture of family snapshots, and a closing Q-and-A allows the author to announce the imminent release of a new feature film about Robinson.

It’s an often-told story, but the author is still in a position to give it a unique perspective. (Biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-54006-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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At its best when the emphasis is on the skill and artistry of Mime’s most accomplished practitioner—alas, too much of the...

MARCEL MARCEAU

MASTER OF MIME

The legendary mime is introduced to a new generation, though not entirely successfully.

As a child, Marceau loved to silently entertain his friends, like his idol, Charlie Chaplin. During the Nazi occupation of France, Marcel and his brother took on new identities in the French Underground, where they forged documents for Jewish children and helped many to escape to Switzerland. Spielman assumes that her young audience will understand references to deportation and concentration camps; unfortunately for those that don't, her matter-of-fact tone speaks more of adventure than deadly peril. Her tone subtly changes when she lovingly describes Marceau’s training and development as a mime and his stage persona of Bip the clown, admiring his skills in the “art of silence” that won him international renown. But here too, comparisons to the Little Tramp and Pierrot may be outside readers’ frame of reference. Though the illustrations carefully complement the textual content with period details, Gauthier’s cartoon faces are all nearly identical, with only the screen image of Chaplin and Marceau’s Bip having distinctive features. A double-page spread at the conclusion provides photographs of Bip in action and is the only clear indication of Marceau’s stagecraft.

At its best when the emphasis is on the skill and artistry of Mime’s most accomplished practitioner—alas, too much of the book looks elsewhere. (Picture book/biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7613-3961-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

AFTER ALL I'VE DONE

A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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WALT DISNEY

DRAWN FROM IMAGINATION

A squeaky-clean biography of the original Mouseketeer.

Scollon begins with the (to say the least) arguable claim that Disney grew up to “define and shape what would come to be known as the American Century.” Following this, he retraces Disney’s life and career, characterizing him as a visionary whose only real setbacks came from excess ambition or at the hands of unscrupulous film distributors. Disney’s brother Roy appears repeatedly to switch between roles as encourager and lead doubter, but except in chapters covering his childhood, the rest of his family only puts in occasional cameos. Unsurprisingly, there is no mention of Disney’s post–World War II redbaiting, and his most controversial film, Song of the South, gets only a single reference (and that with a positive slant). More puzzling is the absence of Mary Poppins from the tally of Disney triumphs. Still, readers will come away with a good general picture of the filmmaking and animation techniques that Disney pioneered, as well as a highlight history of his studio, television work and amusement parks. Discussion questions are appended: “What do you think were Walt Disney’s greatest accomplishments and why?” Brown’s illustrations not seen. An iconic success story that has often been told before but rarely so one-dimensionally or with such firm adherence to the company line. (bibliography) (Biography. 8-10)

 

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9647-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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