Gripping, well-researched, superb entertainment.

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INTO THE CLOUDS

THE RACE TO CLIMB THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS MOUNTAIN

Olson details the first three attempts by Americans to summit K2.

K2, at 28,250 feet, is the second-highest mountain in the Himalayan chain and is considered by climbers the most difficult of the over-8,000-meter peaks, of which Everest is the highest. In 1938, when Olson’s gripping tale begins, no one had climbed K2. Medical student Charlie Houston and his handpicked team were tasked by the American Alpine Club to scout a route up K2 so that another team headed by climber Fritz Wiessner could summit the following year. Enduring frigid cold and danger, Houston and another climber reached 26,000 feet before descending. Wiessner’s attempt the following year, plagued by poor management, failed to summit also and resulted in four deaths. Fifteen years later, in 1953, Charlie Houston tried again. Olson writes with assurance and empathy, detailing the nearly unbelievable hardships borne by the climbers and narratively balancing the individuals’ obsession to summit against the humanity of the so-called “brotherhood of the rope”—climbers are roped together, therefore literally dependent on one another for their lives. He takes care to include the porters and Sherpas of these early expeditions—too often considered merely as servants by the wealthy white men who hired them—by including photographs and giving them equal credit in his narrative.

Gripping, well-researched, superb entertainment. (author’s note, sources, notes) (Nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-20736-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic Focus

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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An outstanding case study in how science is actually done: funny, nuanced, and perceptive.

THE FIRST DINOSAUR

HOW SCIENCE SOLVED THE GREATEST MYSTERY ON EARTH

How does a new, truly revolutionary idea become established scientific fact?

Lendler spins his account of how the awesome age and significance of fossils came to be understood into a grand yarn that begins 168 million years ago. He fast-forwards to 1676 and the first recorded fossil fragment of what was later named Megalosaurus and builds on the premise of “The Blind Men and the Elephant” to trace the ensuing, incremental accretion of stunning evidence over the next two centuries that the Earth is far older than the Bible seems to suggest and was once populated by creatures that no longer exist. It’s a story that abounds in smart, colorful characters including Mary Anning, Richard Owen (a brilliant scholar but “a horrible human being”), and Gideon Mantell, “a dude who really, really loved fossils.” Along the way the author fills readers in on coprolites (“the proof was in the pooing”), highlights the importance of recording discoveries, and explains how the tentative suggestion that certain fossils might have come from members of the “Lizard Tribe” morphed into the settled concept of “dinosaur.” Though he tells a Eurocentric tale, the author incorporates references to sexism and class preconceptions into his picture of scientific progress. Butzer’s illustrations add decorative and, sometimes, comical notes to sheaves of side notes, quotations, charts, maps, and period portraits and images.

An outstanding case study in how science is actually done: funny, nuanced, and perceptive. (bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2700-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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