A sweet, satisfying memoir about family bonds and finding one’s place in the world.



Picture-book author Uhlberg (A Storm Called Katrina, illus. by Colin Bootman, 2015, etc.) tells his story of growing up with Deaf parents in Depression-era Brooklyn.

Evoking a pleasant nostalgia with its strong sense of place, the episodic narrative follows Myron Uhlberg, a young, white Jewish boy, and his family from Myron’s birth to the day he leaves for college. Through anecdotes both funny and poignant, the author explores his complex relationship with his father. Forced to act as an interpreter by the age of 5, Myron feels trapped between the worlds of child and adult as well as Deaf and hearing. This dilemma leads to both humor and pain as Myron navigates the considerable responsibility. The author presents a nuanced portrayal of Deaf life. Myron’s main link to the Deaf world is his parents, but other Deaf adults make appearances, hinting at a spectrum of Deaf experiences. The author’s decision to write his Deaf parents’ speech phonetically could be prejudicial for readers who lack further context, and there is the occasional biased cliché of disability and culture (due to their deafness, he claims his parents’ sole source of entertainment is books; seeing a friend in an iron lung causes him to reassess his self-pity). Additionally, in contrast to the author’s first memoir, Hands of My Father (2009), published for adults, the title of this adaptation feels like a trite appeal to hearing readers. However, the warmth, love, and playfulness of the narrative prevail.

A sweet, satisfying memoir about family bonds and finding one’s place in the world. (Memoir. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3146-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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


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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