Solid, respectful scholarship tailored for mature, serious-minded young readers.



Before she became a trailblazing scientist, Mary Anning was a poor, young woman with no formal education.

Growing up, Anning loved exploring the beaches and cliffs of her native Dorset, a county in southwest England. Raised in the town of Lyme Regis, she was trained by her father to hunt for fossils. She became adept at removing the delicate bones of prehistoric creatures from rocks and preparing them for sale in her impoverished family’s fossil shop. At age 13, Anning made an extraordinary discovery—the first complete ichthyosaurus skeleton ever found; her older brother had earlier discovered its skull. Intelligent and fiercely determined, Anning educated herself by copying articles and drawings from scientific journals, and she learned anatomy through dissection. She achieved many remarkable breakthroughs that gradually advanced paleontological and geological knowledge: She found the first complete plesiosaur fossil; became the first British person to find a pterodactyl; and was the first person in the world to discover a squaloraja (an ancestor of the shark and ray) fossil. Anning rarely received recognition in her lifetime. Only near her death at age 47—due to breast cancer—did she finally gain fame and respect for her scientific contributions. This admiring tribute is well written and thoroughly researched. Its handsome design includes captioned, high-quality color and black-and-white paleoart, archival photos, and engravings as well as some of Anning’s sketches and excerpts from her correspondence with friends and fellow scientists. Each chapter opens with a quote, including three attributed to Anning. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Solid, respectful scholarship tailored for mature, serious-minded young readers. (author's note, timeline, glossary, notes, source quotes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-358-39605-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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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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