A valuable addition to picture-book biographies of women who made waves in history.



This picture-book biography of the first woman to swim the English Channel makes a big splash.

On Aug. 6, 1926, Gertrude Ederle took the world by storm. As a teenager she earned records for swimming sprint distances, and in 1924 she earned one gold and two bronze medals at the Olympics. By 1925 she had set 29 swimming records. Her endurance and determination made the white New Yorker a strong candidate to challenge the English Channel, which she achieved. The focus of the narrative is on the actual event, with details that give depth to the swim and the woman. Since holding onto the boat was not permitted during the attempt, her support team used a net at the end of a long pole to deliver a baby bottle with chicken broth and fried chicken to give her energy while she treaded water. The 21 miles from a beach in France to the English shore took her 14 hours and 39 minutes. The dramatic, full-bleed illustrations combine with the evocative text to humanize the event and the heroine. Especially effective are the perspectives and depiction of water. Impressive research is evident in the author’s note, bibliographic essay, and source notes. Endpapers list a timeline of 1920s sports highlights.

A valuable addition to picture-book biographies of women who made waves in history. (afterword) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3665-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.


If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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