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



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. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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From the For Kids series

The latest installment in the For Kids series offers a clear and interesting biography of the 26th President, plus 21 activities to supplement the narrative. Vigorous writing is rooted in a wealth of fascinating details, and the many photographs, political cartoons, posters, postcards and advertisements help bring to life Roosevelt and his times. Some of the activities, however, have a rather tenuous connection to the text, such as making éclairs (because Roosevelt once said that President McKinley “had no more backbone than an éclair”). One activity—needle felting teddy bears—could prove dangerous for young readers; sewing would be safer and more historically accurate. No source notes are provided, even for quotations, but five of the recommended readings are solid works for young readers. An attractive, well-written volume that, through the better activities, makes learning history a hands-on affair. (places to visit, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-55652-955-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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In no particular order and using no set criteria for his selections, veteran sportscaster Berman pays tribute to an arbitrary gallery of baseball stars—all familiar names and, except for the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, retired from play for decades. Repeatedly taking the stance that statistics are just numbers but then reeling off batting averages, home-run totals, wins (for pitchers) and other data as evidence of greatness, he offers career highlights in a folksy narrative surrounded by photos, side comments and baseball-card–style notes in side boxes. Readers had best come to this with some prior knowledge, since he casually drops terms like “slugging percentage,” “dead ball era” and “barnstorming” without explanation and also presents a notably superficial picture of baseball’s history—placing the sport’s “first half-century” almost entirely in the 1900s, for instance, and condescendingly noting that Jackie Robinson’s skill led Branch Rickey to decide that he “was worthy of becoming the first black player to play in the majors.” The awesome feats of Ruth, Mantle, the Gibsons Bob and Josh, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and the rest are always worth a recap—but this one’s strictly minor league. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4022-3886-4

Page Count: 138

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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