A carefully diverse roster of “dominant dames” demonstrably capable of breaking gender molds…along with records and/or heads.

THE BOOK OF QUEENS

LEGENDARY LEADERS, FIERCE FEMALES, AND WONDER WOMEN WHO RULED THE WORLD

A united nations of leading ladies of the past and present, commingled with luminaries in the arts, sciences, and annals of piracy.

Leading off with full-page portraits of Aretha Franklin and Joan of Arc to herald her glittering gallery’s expansive purview, Drimmer dishes up short introductions to over 100 strong women who either headed states or shone in academic or public spheres. Gathered thematically, each comes with a picture—some true to period but many done in newer styles, including lots of stock images looking like models in costume—and a biographical note. Along with well-documented royals from Hatshepsut to the Elizabeths I and II, Catherine the Great to Anne Boleyn (“her reign was cut short”), readers will get ganders at such non-Western achievers as Himiko, Japan’s earliest known ruler, and Ashanti rebel Yaa Asantewaa. Venturing into realms beyond the geopolitical, Trimmer profiles Simone Biles and other “Sovereigns of Sports,” “Monarchs of Music,” “Legendary Leaders” like Wonder Woman (the film version), and assorted aeronauts, astronauts, and “Nobel Nobles.” A number of male monarchs, mostly from the co-published Book of Kings, sneak into side boxes, and occasional featurettes focus on queenly armor, bling, and emblems. Considering the pervasive evidence of bloody-mindedness, readers in search of “lean in” role models may justly scoff at the closing tally of positive queenly character traits.

A carefully diverse roster of “dominant dames” demonstrably capable of breaking gender molds…along with records and/or heads. (index) (Collective biography. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3535-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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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 detail-rich picture book best for readers who enjoy nonfiction and are interested in history or science.

COUNTING THE STARS

THE STORY OF KATHERINE JOHNSON, NASA MATHEMATICIAN

This biography of renowned mathematician Katherine Johnson featuring illustrations by Colón aims for elementary-age readers.

Cline-Ransome (Finding Langston, 2018, etc.) traces Johnson’s love of math, curiosity about the world, and studiousness from her early entry to school through her help sending a man into space as a human computer at NASA. The text is detailed and lengthy, between one and four paragraphs of fairly small text on each spread. Many biographies of black achievers during segregation focus on society’s limits and the subject’s determination to reach beyond them. This book takes a subtler approach, mentioning segregation only once (at her new work assignment, “she ignored the stares and the COLORED GIRLS signs on the bathroom door and the segregated cafeteria”) and the glass ceiling for women twice in a factual tone as potential obstacles that did not stop Johnson. Her work is described in the context of the space race, which helps to clarify the importance of her role. Colón’s signature soft, textured illustrations evoke the time period and Johnson’s feeling of wonder about the world, expressed in the refrain, “Why? What? How?” The text moves slowly and demands a fairly high comprehension level (e.g., “it was the job of these women computers to double-check the engineers’ data, develop complex equations, and analyze the numbers”). An author’s note repeats much of the text, adding quotes from Johnson and more details about her more recent recognition.

A detail-rich picture book best for readers who enjoy nonfiction and are interested in history or science. (Picture book/biography. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0475-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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