A kind, thoughtful, nuanced portrayal of one of the icons of children’s literature.

HOUSE OF DREAMS

THE LIFE OF L.M. MONTGOMERY

The first middle-grade biography of Canadian author L.M. Montgomery in over 20 years.

Drawing primarily on the author’s personal journals (published only in edited form until very recently but available to the author in their entirety), Rosenberg presents a balanced and sympathetic portrait of a lonely young girl who grew up to write cheerful novels despite her always-challenging life. Maud (she was never called by her first name, Lucy) lost her mother to tuberculosis in 1876 before she was 2 and her father to wanderlust before she was 7. Raised by her puritanical grandparents in Cavendish, a small village on Prince Edward Island, she early on retreated into her imagination, naming the trees in her grandparents’ yard. Her first novel, Anne of Green Gables, was published to instant success—but Maud, by then 34, had broken off an engagement and was the sole caretaker of her elderly, difficult, and ailing grandmother. Prone herself to bouts of severe depression, she married a preacher who suffered from severe mental illness, and troubles with her elder son haunted her last years. Rosenberg writes clearly and honestly, making liberal use of Maud’s own words, allowing Maud’s courage and joy to shine despite her very real problems. Morstad’s black-and-white drawings effectively set the mood, underscoring the ethnic homogeneity of the largely white PEI.

A kind, thoughtful, nuanced portrayal of one of the icons of children’s literature. (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6057-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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A likable journey that is sensitive to the triumphs and agonies of being a 13-year-old girl.

FRIENDS FOREVER

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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