Trippy, creative, and thoughtful, this vocabulary book should awaken imaginations.


Daedal Doodle


An ABC book for all ages features the artist/author’s illustrations of unusual words in unexpected combinations, from “apperceptive achatina” to “zooid zeppelin’s zygote.”

Stabin, an illustrator with a long career whose work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Newsweek, and Rolling Stone, has designed nine U.S. postage stamps. His work has been displayed in the National Portrait Gallery. In creating ABC illustrations for his young daughters, the author kept finding “fascinating words” in the dictionary that he “couldn’t wait to illustrate.” In 26 alliterative phrases from A to Z, this debut book explains uncommon vocabulary with dictionary definitions and pronunciations, example sentences, and loopy, surreal drawings. These are mostly in black and white, but some include pops of color as well as photographed images. Under K, for example, the capital letter seems to be composed of some alien tubas, feather dusters, and a stepladder (readers can concoct their own interpretations as part of the fun). The phrase for K is “kaonic karakul”; “kaonic” involves certain subatomic particles, and a “karakul” is a kind of sheep. The main illustration depicts spheres and orbital paths, among which some sheep are jumping; one is bubbly, as if covered with atomic particles. The accompanying sentence reads “Kaonic karakuls are the subatomic sheep that physicists count to go to sleep.” As this example shows, the vocabulary can be challenging even for adults, yet the book’s witty playfulness invites readers in, as do the dynamic, spiky/swooping lines of the artwork. Some pages fold out for larger display, giving the book a generous feel. Kids will enjoy finding the acorns on every page except for F (because “fig fauns only like figs,” naturally). There are a few missteps; for example, “nucivorous” means nut-eating, not nut-bearing; and why not include a note about Daedalus under the entry for “daedal,” especially because Daedalus is mentioned in passing later under “minotaur”? The book’s second edition includes a FAQ, curriculum guidance for the classroom, and examples of student work.

Trippy, creative, and thoughtful, this vocabulary book should awaken imaginations. 

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?


This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet