Multiple design flaws make this a hard pass.



Focusing on mostly U.S. athletes, Cline-Ransome offers snapshots of some revolutionary athletes who brought change to the gender makeup of sports.

Organized by date of birth, starting with Constance Applebee, a British immigrant who, in the early 1900s, brought field hockey to U.S. college campuses as a women’s sport, and ending with present-day baseball star Mo’ne Davis, this showcases a small selection of women athletes in successive double-page spreads. The design is flashy, but it also gets in the way of the book’s effectiveness. Each bio includes a full-page photo with an inspirational quote printed over it in cursive type; these are unreferenced, often decontextualized, and sometimes confusing. Within the bios, the writing is engaging, with ample use of direct quotes by and about athletes, capturing their personalities and achievements. There is no introduction, however, and with no statement of scope or mission, it leaves readers to wonder why these specific athletes and facts were chosen. The hard-to-read white text on brightly colored backgrounds is at times anecdotal, and with no source notes or any kind of bibliographic references, readers cannot follow up or verify details. Each bio ends midcareer, but a backmatter section titled “After the Whistle” gives a wrap-up of each athlete’s life. Unfortunately, the absence of pagination will make it hard for young readers to cross-reference these with the main bios, and it is only here where the athletes’ more controversial sides come to light.

Multiple design flaws make this a hard pass. (Collective biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6453-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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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A likable journey that is sensitive to the triumphs and agonies of being a 13-year-old girl.


From the Friends series , Vol. 3

Shannon just wants to get through eighth grade in one piece—while feeling like her own worst enemy.

In this third entry in popular author for young people Hale’s graphic memoir series, the young, sensitive overachiever is crushed by expectations: to be cool but loyal to her tightknit and dramatic friend group, a top student but not a nerd, attractive to boys but true to her ideals. As events in Shannon’s life begin to overwhelm her, she works toward finding a way to love and understand herself, follow her passions for theater and writing, and ignore her cruel inner voice. Capturing the visceral embarrassments of middle school in 1987 Salt Lake City, Shannon’s emotions are vivid and often excruciating. In particular, the social norms of a church-oriented family are clearly addressed, and religion is shown as being both a comfort and a struggle for Shannon. While the text is sometimes in danger of spelling things out a little too neatly and obviously, the emotional honesty and sincerity drawn from Hale’s own life win out. Pham’s artwork is vibrant and appealing, with stylistic changes for Shannon’s imaginings and the leeching out of color and use of creative panel structures as her anxiety and depression worsen.

A likable journey that is sensitive to the triumphs and agonies of being a 13-year-old girl. (author's note, gallery) (Graphic memoir. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-31755-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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