A perceptive, loving tribute.



A uniquely personal portrait of the United States’ first woman in space, illustrated with sheaves of public and private photos.

As her longtime companion, as well as co-author (of Exploring Our Solar System, 2003, etc.) and business partner, O’Shaughnessy is in an unparalleled position to illuminate Ride’s inner life as much as her well-known outer one. She does so here in a frank, engagingly detailed account that tenders as much about her subject’s significant friendships and loves as it does about her outstanding academic, athletic, astronautical, and post-NASA achievements. All of these are also traced in the illustrations, which begin with baby and toddler pictures, close with images of post-mortem tributes (Ride died in 2012, of pancreatic cancer), and in between mix family snapshots and posed portraits with report cards, yearbook photos, news clippings, mementos, and letters. Sue Macy’s excellent Sally Ride: Life on a Mission (2014) covers much of the same territory (and broke the news to younger readers that Ride was gay), but both the visual material and the author’s personal memories here add significant insights and angles of view to her subject. They describe the growth and complex character of a smart but unmotivated young “underachiever” who became anything but and stands as an exemplar for budding scientists of any sex.

A perceptive, loving tribute. (timeline, index) (Biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59643-994-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

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Give this a pass: much clearer pictures of what DNA does and the strong personalities who were involved in winkling out its...



From the Campfire Heroes series

The story of the discovery of the structure of DNA, in graphic format.

Failing to take advantage of either the format or the historic search’s drama, this rendition presents a portentous account heavy on explication and melodramatic rhetoric and featuring a cast of grimacing or pinched-looking figures spouting wooden dialogue. Watson: “So if we combine our research with Rosalind’s data and…” Crick: “And Linus’s approach of building models. We might be able to figure this out.” Helfand diffuses the focus by paying nearly as much attention to the childhoods and early careers of Linus Pauling, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin as he does to Watson and Crick but downplays the rivalries that drove the race. Also, for all the technical detail he injects (“the phosphates would have to be on the outside”) and further explanations in the back, readers will be left in the dark about the role of genes, how DNA actually works, or even the significance of its double helix structure. A closing note about the contributions of Indian-born Nobelist Har Gobind Khorana adds a note of diversity to the all-white cast.

Give this a pass: much clearer pictures of what DNA does and the strong personalities who were involved in winkling out its secrets are available. (Graphic nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-93-81182-21-5

Page Count: 92

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Valuable for nods to some lesser-known luminaries but clumsy to a fault.



From the Real Lives series

Profiles of modern women who stood up, sat down, defied powers that be, worked or are working for peace, or otherwise merit consideration as role models.

The authors open with a poorly reasoned and written introduction positing that the book’s title is accurate because “fearless” means the same thing as “courageous” and declaring that their selected figures “heralded from the four corners of the world.” Following this, single-page profiles arranged in no readily apparent order present the achievements of 36 notable women beginning with Rosa Parks, Emmeline Pankhurst, and Malala Yousafzai. Some of the choices are fixtures in the feminist firmament, but there are others who are not universally beloved (Margaret Thatcher, Winnie Mandela). Many will likely be new to the target audience, such as Brazilian graffiti artist and social activist Panmela Castro, for instance, or Indian warrior queen Lakshmibai (listed, rather insensitively considering the context, not under her name but as Maharani of Jhansi, which translates “Maharaja’s widow”). The large portrait photos opposite each entry have been colorized or otherwise processed into a paint-by-numbers look. A few more women get brief mention at the end, but there are no source notes or leads to further information. Companion volume Unsung Heroes highlights both male and female luminaries, most of whom (Henrietta Lacks, Omkar Nath Sharma, Harvey Milk, for instance) will be unfamiliar to the audience.

Valuable for nods to some lesser-known luminaries but clumsy to a fault. (index) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7641-6886-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Barron's

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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