An interesting account, but Victor remains as inscrutable as ever.



The well-documented case of a feral child who didn’t speak, ran on all fours, and was captured in post-Revolution France and studied by a succession of Enlightenment-influenced thinkers gets an interesting, well-informed retelling, but unlike his inquisitors, the boy never comes into focus.

Two who studied him left detailed accounts of their observations: a teacher at a boys’ school, Pierre-Joseph Bonnaterre, and later, a doctor at a Paris school for deaf-mute children, Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard, who undertook his education and gave him his name: Victor. Itard’s intelligent, compassionate housekeeper opened her home to him. Though Victor never learned to speak, Itard’s mostly humane, child-centered teaching profoundly influenced later educators. Inconsistencies in Losure’s take abound. Scenery and buildings merit detailed description, but historical and cultural context is lacking—the French Revolution isn’t mentioned. Readers are invited to judge “cold-eyed” scientists, especially Bonnaterre (“to him, the boy was only a specimen”) by contemporary standards. Itard’s harshest actions (knowing Victor’s fear of heights, Itard dangled him out a high window) escape editorializing. Text, syntax and vocabulary envision quite young readers, yet the eight pages of scholarly footnotes and academic bibliography are strictly for adults. Resources for children or teachers aren’t provided. Victor is known only through those who observed and studied him. Losure’s speculations on what he might have felt have a distancing effect and do not belong in a work of nonfiction.

An interesting account, but Victor remains as inscrutable as ever.   (author's note) (Nonfiction. 10 & up)

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5669-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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A beautiful, powerful reflection on a tragic history.


In spare verse, Lowry reflects on moments in her childhood, including the bombings of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. 

When she was a child, Lowry played at Waikiki Beach with her grandmother while her father filmed. In the old home movie, the USS Arizona appears through the mist on the horizon. Looking back at her childhood in Hawaii and then Japan, Lowry reflects on the bombings that began and ended a war and how they affected and connected everyone involved. In Part 1, she shares the lives and actions of sailors at Pearl Harbor. Part 2 is stories of civilians in Hiroshima affected by the bombing. Part 3 presents her own experience as an American in Japan shortly after the war ended. The poems bring the haunting human scale of war to the forefront, like the Christmas cards a sailor sent days before he died or the 4-year-old who was buried with his red tricycle after Hiroshima. All the personal stories—of sailors, civilians, and Lowry herself—are grounding. There is heartbreak and hope, reminding readers to reflect on the past to create a more peaceful future. Lowry uses a variety of poetry styles, identifying some, such as triolet and haiku. Pak’s graphite illustrations are like still shots of history, adding to the emotion and somber feeling. He includes some sailors of color among the mostly white U.S. forces; Lowry is white.

A beautiful, powerful reflection on a tragic history. (author’s note, bibliography) (Memoir/poetry. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-12940-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Noncanonical entries make this a natural companion or follow-up for Kathleen Krull’s essential Lives of the Artists,...



From the Kid Legends series , Vol. 3

For budding artists, here’s a heartening reminder that 17 unconventional greats—not to mention all the rest—started out as children too.

The pseudonymous Stabler (Robert Schnakenberg in real life) adopts a liberal admissions policy for his latest gathering of anecdotal profiles (Kid Presidents, 2014, etc.). In a chapter on the influence of nature and wildlife on early artistic visions, Leonardo da Vinci and the young Vincent van Gogh rub shoulders with Beatrix Potter and Emily Carr; in another focusing on overcoming shyness or other personal, social, or economic obstacles, Jackson Pollock hangs out with Charles Schulz, Yoko Ono, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. In a third chapter that highlights the importance of a supportive parent, teacher, or other cheerleader, fathers do for prodigious young Pablo Picasso and polio-stricken Frida Kahlo, his mother for Andy Warhol, art instructors for Jacob Lawrence and Keith Haring. The author owns an easy, readable style, and though he leaves out quite a lot—Diego Rivera goes unmentioned in the Kahlo entry, nor do van Gogh’s suicide, Basquiat’s heroin addiction, or anyone’s sexual orientation come up—he’s chosen his subjects with an eye toward diversity of background, upbringing, and, eventually, style and media. Horner lightens the overall tone further with cartoon vignettes of caricatured but recognizable figures.

Noncanonical entries make this a natural companion or follow-up for Kathleen Krull’s essential Lives of the Artists, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (1995). (bibliography) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59474-896-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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