Courageous leaders, activists, creators, and pioneers guaranteed to inspire.



A compilation of short biographies of 25 Middle Eastern women, all trailblazers in their fields, and their achievements, from ancient times to the modern day.

Each chapter (about four pages long) introduces one woman, highlighting her achievements on the first page, which faces an illustration in a range of styles but with saturated colors that complement the page backgrounds. The second spread goes into further detail about each subject’s life. Some of the women included from long ago include Empress Theodora, Queen Nefertiti, and poet Rabi’a al Adawiyya. Among the present-day women are Manahel Thabet from Yemen, a scientist, economist, and mathematician; Maha al Balushi, an Omani pilot and activist; May Ziadeh, an Egyptian writer and feminist; and Amal Clooney, a Lebanese British human rights lawyer. A variety of different accomplishments and careers are introduced, particularly for present-day women. Tarnowska defines terms, identifies present-day areas where some of these women live or lived, and writes about how each woman succeeded and what she has done to change the world. Many, ranging from Cleopatra to Zahra Lari, an ice skater from Abu Dhabi, followed their dreams, whether or not they were supported by family, friends, and community. These biographies will both inspire readers and correct misconceptions and stereotypes about women from the Middle East. There is a glossary but no bibliography or list of resources. A map defines the Middle Eastern countries represented in the book. (This review has been updated for clarity.)

Courageous leaders, activists, creators, and pioneers guaranteed to inspire. (map. glossary) (Collective biography. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62371-870-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.


From the They Did What? series

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...



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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