Educators may find this an instructive reminder that big pictures often don’t reveal much.

NATIVE AMERICANS

A VISUAL EXPLORATION

Facts about native peoples in the United States and Canada presented in infographic form make up the substance of this visually interesting but problematic title.

Organized loosely into sections covering origins, society, foods and culture, this slim volume attempts to provide a visual snapshot of the many indigenous peoples of these two countries. Each double-page spread answers a question—“Where did they live?” “How did they eat?” “What do they believe?”—with a short paragraph and one or many graphics accompanied by further text. There are maps, graphs, word clouds, timelines and numbers galore. Some images are suitable for younger readers: “What can you make with a bison?” is a clear depiction of how that animal served as a “walking department store.” Others, such as a map combining symbols and colors for typical communities, social structures and kinship systems, require considerable visual literacy. The combination of generalities—“Generosity is an important aspect of Native American spirituality”—and statistics that vary from source to source makes the information that is so graphically presented suspect. A selected bibliography suggests the actor-turned-author consulted sources ranging from encyclopedias to websites from a variety of organizations. Occasional obvious errors (humans don’t walk at 10 mph) stand out.

Educators may find this an instructive reminder that big pictures often don’t reveal much. (index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55451-485-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...

TWO MEN AND A CAR

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AL CAPONE, AND A CADILLAC V-8

A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

INFINITE COUNTRY

A 15-year-old girl in Colombia, doing time in a remote detention center, orchestrates a jail break and tries to get home.

"People say drugs and alcohol are the greatest and most persuasive narcotics—the elements most likely to ruin a life. They're wrong. It's love." As the U.S. recovers from the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, from the misery of separations on the border, from both the idea and the reality of a wall around the United States, Engel's vital story of a divided Colombian family is a book we need to read. Weaving Andean myth and natural symbolism into her narrative—condors signify mating for life, jaguars revenge; the embattled Colombians are "a singed species of birds without feathers who can still fly"; children born in one country and raised in another are "repotted flowers, creatures forced to live in the wrong habitat"—she follows Talia, the youngest child, on a complex journey. Having committed a violent crime not long before she was scheduled to leave her father in Bogotá to join her mother and siblings in New Jersey, she winds up in a horrible Catholic juvie from which she must escape in order to make her plane. Hence the book's wonderful first sentence: "It was her idea to tie up the nun." Talia's cross-country journey is interwoven with the story of her parents' early romance, their migration to the United States, her father's deportation, her grandmother's death, the struggle to reunite. In the latter third of the book, surprising narrative shifts are made to include the voices of Talia's siblings, raised in the U.S. This provides interesting new perspectives, but it is a little awkward to break the fourth wall so late in the book. Attention, TV and movie people: This story is made for the screen.

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982159-46-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A valuable introduction to a vanished North American people, told with nuance, engagement, and rue.

TUNIIT

MYSTERIOUS FOLK OF THE ARCTIC

Before the Inuit came to the Arctic, there were the Tuniit.

The Qitsualik-Tinsleys offer readers an introduction to this prehistoric people, twining scientific findings with Inuit legend and even Inuktitut grammar to provide a window on the early Arctic. Without going into anthropological specifics, the husband-and-wife team, who include Inuit, Cree, and Mohawk in their combined heritage, introduce the notion that the Tuniit may not have been human before going on to say that they lived in settlements, originated the intricate stone cairns known as inuksuit, and were short, strong, and shy. They introduce snippets of traditional lore that claim supernatural powers for the Tuniit and that build a strong case for the eventual assimilation of the Tuniit by the encroaching Inuit. Anthropological discoveries validate the existence of the Tuniit and their disappearance as a distinct culture and genotype. Bigham contributes moody oil paintings and ink drawings; shifts in typeface seem to indicate corresponding shifts in mode that highlight the persistence of the Tuniit in Inuit legend, though this is not consistent. The authors clearly wrestle with the understanding that Inuit ancestors displaced an earlier indigenous people, introducing real poignancy to their exhortation that their readers respect the Tuniit by remembering them: "We remember a fate that no culture should have to endure."

A valuable introduction to a vanished North American people, told with nuance, engagement, and rue. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-927095-76-8

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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