James Bond would cringe at these cleverly reconstructed espionage failures; kids will eat them up.

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SPY, SPY AGAIN

TRUE TALES OF FAILED ESPIONAGE

Holdcroft presents 20 bungled spy plots in high-mirth graphic format.

Spies have been botching their plots since they first started plotting, and Holdcroft has unearthed a number of documented snafus from ancient India, the Persian Empire and Old Cathay, as well as a number of more modern flubs. She has organized the book into five thematic chapters—bad luck, miscommunication, incompetence, overconfidence and betrayal—and most of the episodes lend themselves to her style. This is to paint the principals in both word and image (many of the spies appear to share a family resemblance to Boris and Natasha of the old Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon) as broadly humorous schemers and, ultimately, fumblers. But she also chocks the stories full of background information to put the spying act in context—the book is, to put it mildly, voluble—and she knows when to throttle back on the yuks when the bite of the act still carries a sting, these being the tragic bombing of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior and the perfidies of Aldrich Ames. Still, there is plenty of room for comedy, from the industrial sabotage behind cochineal red to the bugging device surgically implanted in a cat (the cost of Project Acoustic Kitty to the American taxpayer: $15 million; the cat was run over by a taxi) to the botched recovery of a Soviet submarine (cost to American taxpayer: $500 million).

James Bond would cringe at these cleverly reconstructed espionage failures; kids will eat them up. (bibliography) (Graphic nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-55451-223-2

Page Count: 110

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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Despite its not insignificant flaws, this book provides insights into the lives of important women, many of whom have...

SHE DID IT!

21 WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE WAY WE THINK

Caldecott Medalist McCully delves into the lives of extraordinary American women.

Beginning with the subject of her earlier biography Ida M. Tarbell (2014), McCully uses a chronological (by birth year) structure to organize her diverse array of subjects, each of whom is allotted approximately 10 pages. Lovely design enhances the text with a full-color portrait of each woman and small additional illustrations in the author/illustrator’s traditional style, plenty of white space, and spare use of dynamic colors. This survey provides greater depth than most, but even so, some topics go troublingly uncontextualized to the point of reinforcing stereotype: “In slavery, Black women had been punished for trying to improve their appearance. Now that they were free, many cared a great deal about grooming”; “President Roosevelt ordered all Japanese Americans on the West Coast to report to internment camps to keep them from providing aid to the enemy Japanese forces.” Of the 21 surveyed, one Japanese-American woman (Patsy Mink) is highlighted, as are one Latinx woman (Dolores Huerta), one Mohegan woman (Gladys Tantaquidgeon), three black women (Madam C.J. Walker, Ella Baker, and Shirley Chisholm), four out queer white women (Billie Jean King, Barbara Gittings, Jane Addams, and Isadora Duncan; the latter two’s sexualities are not discussed), two Jewish women (Gertrude Berg and Vera Rubin), and three women with known disabilities (Addams, Dorothea Lange, and Temple Grandin).

Despite its not insignificant flaws, this book provides insights into the lives of important women, many of whom have otherwise yet to be featured in nonfiction for young readers. (sources) (Collective biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-01991-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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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