This may be a springboard for discussing values if nothing else.

THE BOOK OF HEROINES

TALES OF HISTORY'S GUTSIEST GALS

Women, girls, animals, and a few “Daring Dudes” from the dawn of history to the present are feted with short biographies and colorful art.

A dizzying array of people (and animals) designated female by birth—historical, mythological, and fictional—are classified as heroines, with no discussion of why that term is used rather than “hero.” (The concurrent publication of The Book of Heroes may explain that.) The introduction lists seven qualities common to most heroines, including selflessness, bravery, and perseverance, noting that each female in the book began as an ordinary girl until “the choice that changed them from ordinary to extraordinary.” From Antigone to Malala Yousafzai to Ruth Wakefield (inventor of the chocolate-chip cookie), glib language conveys information that often speaks more to sensationalism, hype, and commercialism than to the text’s own definition of heroism. Space is given, appropriately, both to women who managed to succeed in spite of male dominance and to those whose achievements were co-opted by men. However, it subverts its purpose by including patronizing examples besides Ruth Wakefield—such as Henrietta Lacks, a woman who never knew her cancerous tumor had been used for scientific research. As is typical of a National Geographic book, the layout, art, and photography are generally exceptional even if the accessible text is shallow. Heroes offers a great centerfold: “How to Change the World.” Sadly, Heroines has a centerfold of Wonder Woman.

This may be a springboard for discussing values if nothing else. (introduction, afterword, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2557-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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Involving from "the end of my lovely world" to the end of exile (when the Rudomins, as Jews, were jeered in Poland), this is...

THE ENDLESS STEPPE

GROWING UP IN SIBERIA

To Esther Rudomin at eleven Siberia meant the metaphor: isolation, criminals and cruel punishment, snow and wolves; but even in Siberia there is satisfaction from making a friend of a prickly classmate, from seeing a Deanna Durbin movie four times, from earning and studying and eventually belonging.

Especially in Siberia, where not wolves but hunger and dirt and cold are endemic, where shabbiness and overcrowding are taken for granted, where unselfishness is exceptional. At the heart of Mrs. Hautzig's memoir of four years as a Polish deportee in Russia during World War II is not only hardihood and adaptability but uniquely a girl like any other. Abruptly seized in their comfortable home in Vilna, Esther and her family, are shipped in cattle cars to Rubtsovsk in the Altai Territory, work as slave laborers in a gypsum mine until amnesty, then are "permitted" lobs and lodging in the village--if someone will take them in. After sleeping on the floor, a wooden platform is very welcome; after sharing a room with two other families, a separate dung hut seems a homestead. Then Esther goes to school, the greatest boon, and, to her mother's horror, wants to be like the Siberians....Deprivation does not make Esther grim: the saddest day of her life is her father's departure for a labor brigade at the front, her sharpest bitterness is for the bland viciousness of individuals.

Involving from "the end of my lovely world" to the end of exile (when the Rudomins, as Jews, were jeered in Poland), this is a beautiful book with no bar to wide acceptance (and a rich non-juvenile jacket by Nonny Hogrogian). (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 15, 1968

ISBN: 978-0-06-447027-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: T.Y. Crowell

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1968

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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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