Pure silliness: shelve far, far away from the biographies.



From the LieOgraphies series

All her life, Amelia has only one thing on her mind: flight.

At her third birthday party, all her presents are plane-themed. Her fifth grade class laughs at her eagerness to fly. She’s excited to attend a stunt-pilot show but misses it thanks to an out-of-date poster. Through it all, she clings to her pronouncement that “Someday I will fly.” Even when she finally procures a plane, she’s told that girls can’t fly (when proven wrong, the naysaying adult man apologizes). She perseveres and eventually makes big plans for her 50th flight. Katz lards the baldly fictional narrative with absurdities such as metafictive tricks, anachronisms, and gags of convenience. Blessedly, the book closes with “some factual facts” about Earhart’s life, most crucially noting that she apparently had “no particular interest in aviation during her childhood.” Thus, the book is self-admittedly what its title promises. The grayscale cartoons give no indication that any character is any race other than White. Rather, as Christopher Eliopoulos does in his illustrations of Brad Meltzer’s Ordinary People Change the World series, Hill depicts his protagonist the same way no matter her age, which becomes problematic when she’s 17 and still looks like a 3-year-old among tall, adult-proportioned figures. This read is best for those whose senses of irony and humor are developed enough to enjoy the foolishness and then dismiss it. Companion titles about Babe Ruth and Thomas Edison publish simultaneously.

Pure silliness: shelve far, far away from the biographies. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-939100-48-1

Page Count: 100

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Several unexpected connections, though Eurocentric overall and lacking in racial diversity.



Renowned achievers go nose-to-nose on fold-out pages.

Mixing contemporary celebrities with historical figures, Corbineau pairs off his gallery of full-page portraits by theme, the images all reworked from photos or prints into cut-paper collages with highly saturated hues. Gandhi and Rosa Parks exemplify nonviolent protest; Mother Teresa and Angelina Jolie are (mostly) commended for their work with impoverished people; and a “common point” between Gutenberg and Mark Zuckerberg is that both revolutionized the ways we communicate. The portraits, on opposite ends of gatefolds, open to reveal short biographies flanking explanatory essays. Women and people of color are distinctly underrepresented. There are a few surprises, such as guillotined French playwright Olympe de Gouges, linked for her feminism with actress Emma Watson; extreme free-fall jumper Felix Baumgartner, paired with fellow aerialist record-seeker Amelia Earhart; and Nelson Mandela’s co–freedom fighter Jean Moulin, a leader of the French Resistance. In another departure from the usual run of inspirational panegyrics, Cornabas slips in the occasional provocative claim, noting that many countries considered Mandela’s African National Congress a terrorist organization and that Mother Teresa, believing that suffering was “a gift from God,” rarely gave her patients painkillers. Although perhaps only some of these subjects “changed the world” in any significant sense, all come off as admirable—for their ambition, strength of character, and drive.

Several unexpected connections, though Eurocentric overall and lacking in racial diversity. (map, timeline) (Collective biography. 8-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7643-6226-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Schiffer

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Inspirational but occasionally unclear.


Gooding's debut profiles 40 famous people with disabilities.

The author, a mother of children with disabilities, opens the book with a note about her desire to find role models for her children. To that end, she alphabetically introduces racially diverse disabled people from around the world and throughout history. Diagnoses range from autism to limb difference. Historical figures include Japanese peace advocate Sadako Sasaki, who developed leukemia after the bombing of Hiroshima, and American abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who led fellow slaves to freedom despite epilepsy. Contemporary figures include athletes, authors, and entertainers: Polio survivor and Paralympian Malathi Krishnamurthy-Holla remains "one of the fastest female Indian athletes in a wheelchair"; Japanese nonverbal author Naoki Higashida penned popular books describing autism; English actor Daniel Radcliffe deals with dyspraxia, a coordination disorder; and Australian Madeline Stuart is the first professional model with Down syndrome. Each profile begins with an uplifting quote and concludes with a sidebar explaining the subject’s disability. Unfortunately, some sidebars emphasize colloquial over scientific terms. For instance, Stephen Hawking’s disability is named eponymously (Lou Gehrig's disease), “also known as ALS,” instead of with its scientific name, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Occasionally, vague phrasing creates confusion, such as when the author writes that a speech-generating device enabled Hawking to communicate by using a “touchpad.” (A hand clicker became his primary input method.) Various illustrators’ realistic renditions of smiling subjects complement the upbeat (albeit somewhat dry) text.

Inspirational but occasionally unclear. (glossary, quote sources) (Collective biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-78741-848-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Bonnier/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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