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MARY SEACOLE

BOUND FOR THE BATTLEFIELD

Both biography and subject are unique and inspiring.

A detailed biography of a Jamaican woman who nursed soldiers in battle during the Crimean War.

Born in 1805 to a Creole (mixed-race) mother and a Scottish father, Seacole spent her childhood studying her mother’s medicinal practices and relishing her father’s war stories, hoping to one day travel herself. Her life became a combination of both. After her husband and mother died, Seacole took charge of the boardinghouse her mother left behind. When soldiers arrived sick with cholera, she would nurse them. Wherever she went, her medical knowledge was needed: an outbreak of cholera in Panama when she visited her brother; yellow fever outbreaks in Kingston. Finally, she went to London to volunteer as an army nurse in the Crimean War (the basics of the war are described for context). She was turned away due to her color, but she packed her treatments and headed to Turkey on her own. Florence Nightingale turned her away too, but Seacole knew her services were needed, and she went elsewhere, ultimately spending years treating soldiers on the battlefield. She became famous when a British war journalist praised her, and she eventually wrote a book about her experiences—but she returned to England in debt. Her service was at last acknowledged and her finances saved by contributions made by the English people and the crown. This slim book features full-page, color illustrations throughout, and the text quotes Seacole’s memoir to give the narrative the flavor of her era, personality, and experiences. It is a riveting story that deserves attention.

Both biography and subject are unique and inspiring. (source notes, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7994-1

Page Count: 49

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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THE BOY WHO FAILED SHOW AND TELL

Though a bit loose around the edges, a charmer nevertheless.

Tales of a fourth grade ne’er-do-well.

It seems that young Jordan is stuck in a never-ending string of bad luck. Sure, no one’s perfect (except maybe goody-two-shoes William Feranek), but Jordan can’t seem to keep his attention focused on the task at hand. Try as he may, things always go a bit sideways, much to his educators’ chagrin. But Jordan promises himself that fourth grade will be different. As the year unfolds, it does prove to be different, but in a way Jordan couldn’t possibly have predicted. This humorous memoir perfectly captures the square-peg-in-a-round-hole feeling many kids feel and effectively heightens that feeling with comic situations and a splendid villain. Jordan’s teacher, Mrs. Fisher, makes an excellent foil, and the book’s 1970s setting allows for her cruelty to go beyond anything most contemporary readers could expect. Unfortunately, the story begins to run out of steam once Mrs. Fisher exits. Recollections spiral, losing their focus and leading to a more “then this happened” and less cause-and-effect structure. The anecdotes are all amusing and Jordan is an endearing protagonist, but the book comes dangerously close to wearing out its welcome with sheer repetitiveness. Thankfully, it ends on a high note, one pleasant and hopeful enough that readers will overlook some of the shabbier qualities. Jordan is White and Jewish while there is some diversity among his classmates; Mrs. Fisher is White.

Though a bit loose around the edges, a charmer nevertheless. (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-64723-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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THE ASTRONAUT'S GUIDE TO LEAVING THE PLANET

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW, FROM TRAINING TO RE-ENTRY

Finally, an astro-memoir for kids that really gets down to the nitty-gritty.

A former space shuttle pilot and International Space Station commander recalls in unusually exacting detail what it’s like to be an astronaut.

In the same vein as his more expansive adult title How To Astronaut (2020), Virts describes and reflects on his experiences with frank and photographic precision—from riding the infamous “Vomit Comet” to what astronauts wear, eat, and get paid. He also writes vividly about what Earth looks like from near orbit: the different colors of deserts, for instance, and storms that “are so powerful that the flashes from the lightning illuminate the inside of the space station.” With an eye to younger audiences with stars in their eyes, he describes space programs of the past and near future in clear, simple language and embeds pep talks about the importance of getting a good education and ignoring nay-sayers. For readers eager to start their training early, he also tucks in the occasional preparatory “Astronaut Activity,” such as taking some (unused) household item apart…and then putting it back together. Lozano supplements the small color photos of our planet from space and astronauts at work with helpful labeled images, including two types of spacesuits and a space shuttle, as well as cartoon spot art depicting diverse figures.

Finally, an astro-memoir for kids that really gets down to the nitty-gritty. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781523514564

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023

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