A nifty supplement to traditional nonfiction and fiction on the period.

READ REVIEW

THE COLD WAR

SECRETS, SPECIAL MISSIONS, & HIDDEN FACTS ABOUT THE CIA, KGB, AND MI6

From the Top Secret Files series

Bearce’s latest installment in the Top Secret Files series introduces young readers to the Cold War.

Following the design and format of the previous titles in the series, reading this book is rather like opening a filing cabinet, reaching in, and pulling out a file. Any file will do. Skip around; every file contains something interesting: stories of the CIA operative who made an escape dressed as a dog; the Cambridge University students who became KGB spies; the 87-year-old “grey-haired granny” who became a spy. Suggested activities have readers making up secret codes, creating parachutes, making “glacier goo,” and creating UFOs. The “carrot submarine” activity even refers budding vegetable sculptors to a YouTube video if they need help. Interesting tidbits about poop-shaped transmitters, animal agents, U-2 spy planes, the space race, and even Dr. Seuss’ The Butter Battle Book add to the fun. The writing style of the longer chapters—such as “Tunnels to Freedom” and “They Built a Wall”—is direct and matter-of-fact, imparting information clearly. Most entries have lead sentences designed to pull readers in: “What do a raven, a cat, and a dolphin have in common? They were all trained as agents for the CIA.” Particularly valuable for young researchers is a lengthy guide to relevant websites.

A nifty supplement to traditional nonfiction and fiction on the period. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61821-419-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Prufrock Press

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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A great collection of harrowing, true survivor stories.

SURVIVORS

A large-format hardcover gathers together true stories of adventure and survival.

Two that are well-known, at least to adults, are Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition and the ordeal of Aron Ralston, who cut off his own arm with a dull pocketknife in order to extricate himself from a dislodged boulder that trapped him in a narrow canyon, the subject of the film 127 Hours. Lesser known is the story of Poon Lim, who survived 133 days alone in the South Atlantic when the merchant ship he was serving on was sunk by a U-boat. At one point, he caught a shark several feet long, pulled it aboard his raft, beat it to death, and proceeded to suck its blood and eat it raw for nourishment. Seventeen-year-old Juliane Koepcke, the sole survivor of a plane crash in the Peruvian rain forest, relied on survival lessons taught by her parents. During her nine-day ordeal, she poured gasoline on her wounds, which succeeded in removing 35 maggots from one arm. In a skiing accident, Anna Bågenholm was trapped under freezing water for so long her heart stopped. Four hours later, medics managed to warm her blood enough to revive her. The attractive design features a full-page or double-page–spread color illustration depicting a pivotal moment in each well-told story. Entirely absent are such standard features as table of contents, source notes, bibliography, or index, pegging this as an entertainment resource only.

A great collection of harrowing, true survivor stories. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-571-31601-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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