Superb nonfiction that will entertain as it informs.

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UNDEFEATED

JIM THORPE AND THE CARLISLE INDIAN SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM

Young readers of this biography may be surprised that Jim Thorpe, an athlete they may never have heard of, was once considered “the best athlete on the planet.”

Most students at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania were shocked by the treatment they received under superintendent Richard Henry Pratt, who believed white American culture was superior and to “help” his students meant to “kill the Indian in him, and save the man.” New students were given new names, new clothes, and haircuts and were allowed to speak English only. It was a harsh, alien world, and only a small percentage of students ever graduated. The child of a Sac and Fox/Irish father and Potawatomi/French-Canadian mother, Jim Thorpe grew up in a mix of white and Indian culture and was better prepared than many when he entered Carlisle at the age of 15. Sheinkin weaves complicated threads of history—the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the story of Carlisle, the early days of football, and the dual biographies of Thorpe and his coach Pop Warner—with the narrative skills of a gifted storyteller who never forgets the story in history. He is unflinchingly honest in pointing out the racism in white American culture at large and in football culture, including headlines in the newspapers (“INDIANS OUT TO SCALP THE CADETS”), preferential officiating, and war whoops from the stands. Sheinkin easily draws a parallel in the persisting racism in the names of current football teams, such as the Braves and Redskins, bringing the story directly to modern readers.

Superb nonfiction that will entertain as it informs. (source notes, works cited, acknowledgments, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59643-954-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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Absolutely stunning.

FULL OF LIFE

EXPLORING EARTH'S BIODIVERSITY

A journey through the world of all life on Earth.

Sure, it sounds like a lot—and it is. But by linking all of existence into “Earth’s tree of life”—a concept that borrows from genealogy—readers will find an accessible organization that breaks down the world of living beings into a clear and fascinating read. Starting with true bacteria, the organization moves through archaea (tiny microbes) to eukaryotes (plants, algae, fungi, and animals) and ends with infectious particles (with a note clarifying that scientists don’t agree about whether they are alive). Particularly noteworthy—if one aspect in this exceptional book could be said to be more successful than another—is the overall visual presentation. The graphics are clean, colorful, sophisticated, and eye-catching. Each double-page spread follows the same format: A clade (“a group of living things that share a common ancestor”) is highlighted and described. Common traits, where it fits in the tree of life, its scientific name, more unusual aspects of some members, as well as any benefits or detriments the clade may have to humankind (for example, many bacteria are used to develop medicines) are presented in an organized, easy-to-understand manner. Humans are given the same treatment as the rest of the living creatures, and from this, readers will understand we are just one life form out of billions, and our survival depends on the health of every other living thing.

Absolutely stunning. (resources, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-83866-536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of.

SCARED STIFF

50 PHOBIAS THAT FREAK US OUT

Part browsing item, part therapy for the afflicted, this catalog of irrational terrors offers a little help along with a lot of pop psychology and culture.

The book opens with a clinical psychologist’s foreword and closes with a chapter of personal and professional coping strategies. In between, Latta’s alphabetically arranged encyclopedia introduces a range of panic-inducers from buttons (“koumpounophobia”) and being out of cellphone contact (“nomophobia”) to more widespread fears of heights (“acrophobia”), clowns (“coulroiphobia”) and various animals. There’s also the generalized “social anxiety disorder”—which has no medical name but is “just its own bad self.” As most phobias have obscure origins (generally in childhood), similar physical symptoms and the same approaches to treatment, the descriptive passages tend toward monotony. To counter that, the author chucks in references aplenty to celebrity sufferers, annotated lists of relevant books and (mostly horror) movies, side notes on “joke phobias” and other topics. At each entry’s end, she contributes a box of “Scare Quotes” such as a passage from Coraline for the aforementioned fear of buttons.

Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of. (end notes, resource list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-936976-49-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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