Adds provocative nuances to the usual portrayals of a heroic American.

A portrait of a pugnacious civil rights advocate who also happened to be a great athlete.

Liberally salting their narrative with racist period quotes that include frank and pejorative language, putting on unflinching display the ugliness Robinson faced, Williams and Long chronicle his spectacular athletic achievements from elementary school to the major leagues—but look beyond them to portray him as a “relentless and uncompromising Black freedom fighter” who “used his racial pride to fuel his lifelong passion for justice.” From defending himself from a rock-throwing White neighbor at age 8 to later sharp criticisms of Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali for their anti-war stances and harsh debates with Malcolm X, he comes across here as anything but the patient, controlled figure typically found in biographies for young readers. To judge from the copious endnotes and their own professional and publishing histories, the authors have plainly done their research and make a convincing case that while their subject had his bullheaded moments, he operated from consistent and worthy principles. On-field photos, family snapshots, pictures of marching protesters, and news clippings accompany side-boxed comments on historical context and questions for readers to ponder, the latter supplemented in the backmatter with a page of discussion topics. This thorough, expansive, and readable work is an essential addition to the body of literature about a well-known figure.

Adds provocative nuances to the usual portrayals of a heroic American. (additional facts, timeline, index) (Biography. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-38995-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022


Dare-devil mountain-climber Peak Marcello (14), decides to scale the Woolworth Building and lands in jail. To save him, his long-lost Everest-trekking dad appears with a plan for the duo to make a life in Katmandu—a smokescreen to make Peak become the youngest person in history to summit Mount Everest. Peak must learn to navigate the extreme and exotic terrain but negotiate a code of ethics among men. This and other elements such as the return of the long-lost father, bite-size chunks of information about climbing and altitude, an all-male cast, competition and suspense (can Peak be the youngest ever to summit Everest, and can he beat out a 14-year-old Nepalese boy who accompanies him?) creates the tough stuff of a “boys read.” The narrative offers enough of a bumpy ride to satisfy thrill seekers, while Peak’s softer reflective quality lends depth and some—but not too much—emotional resonance. Teachers will want to pair this with Mark Pfetzer’s Within Reach: My Everest Story (1998). (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-15-202417-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2007


Without that frame, this would have been a fine addition to the wacked-out summer-camp subgenre.

Survival camp? How can you not have bad feelings about that?

Sixteen-year-old nerd (or geek, but not dork) Henry Lambert has no desire to go to Strongwoods Survival Camp. His father thinks it might help Henry man up and free him of some of his odd phobias. Randy, Henry’s best friend since kindergarten, is excited at the prospect of going thanks to the camp’s promotional YouTube video, so Henry relents. When they arrive at the shabby camp in the middle of nowhere and meet the possibly insane counselor (and only staff member), Max, Henry’s bad feelings multiply. Max tries to train his five campers with a combination of carrot and stick, but the boys are not athletes, let alone survivalists. When a trio of gangsters drops in on the camp Games to try to collect the debt owed by the owner, the boys suddenly have to put their skills to the test. Too bad they don’t have any—at all. Strand’s summer-camp farce is peopled with sarcastic losers who’re chatty and wry. It’s often funny, and the gags turn in unexpected directions and would do Saturday Night Live skits proud. However, the story’s flow is hampered by an unnecessary and completely unfunny frame that takes place during the premier of the movie the boys make of their experience. The repeated intrusions bring the narrative to a screeching halt.

Without that frame, this would have been a fine addition to the wacked-out summer-camp subgenre. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4022-8455-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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