STONEWALL

An odd subject for a full-length treatment, perhaps, considering the notables whom Fritz has handled more lightly. But the same winning familiarity that made her shorter, somewhat younger biographies successful works well also in this somewhat fuller and more conventional life of Stonewall Jackson—whose shyness and rigidity made him an unpopular student and teacher but a beloved legend as a Confederate general. Fritz points up Jackson's eccentric ways (which included sleeping between wet sheets to improve his digestion, and constantly sucking on lemons), his unbending strictness, his passion for danger and battle, the inhuman demands he made on himself and his men, and the driving ambition that was ever at war with his strong religious beliefs. (Once, after a promotion and prominent victory, he wondered if he shouldn't have been a minister of God instead.) And Fritz fills out the portrait with the fond little jokes and anecdotes the men exchanged about their leader's peculiarities. Fritz's battle reporting is another victory for her method. While neither highlighting the violence nor making light of the horrors, she gives readers some feeling of being there—by quoting from the soldiers' disillusioned letters home, by showing scenes of Rebel-Yankee interchange between battles, by noting peripheral details such as an iron stove lying near a house, "pockmarked with bullets and sputtering as the bullets hit. Ping! Ping! Ping! It sounded as if it were marking the scores in a child's game." Well done.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 1979

ISBN: 069811552X

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1979

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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

THURGOOD

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

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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