A thoughtful, well-researched homage to an almost forgotten hero.

JACOB RIIS'S CAMERA

BRINGING LIGHT TO TENEMENT CHILDREN

Words alone could not provoke change in the terrible plight of tenement dwellers in late-19th-century New York City.

In 1870, Danish-born Jacob Riis immigrated to the United States, where, after years of struggle, he eventually became a newspaperman. In his own life and in his work, he witnessed the horrendous living conditions of New York City’s poorest immigrants. It became the impetus for his lifelong crusade. One of the worst areas was Mulberry Bend, with filthy, overcrowded, airless tenements. He wrote many articles describing what he saw, but nothing changed. Then he took photographs and gave lectures accompanied by life-size reproductions of those photos to any group that would listen. His 1890 book, How the Other Half Lives, inspired others, including Theodore Roosevelt, to finally begin to address the issues. Among other improvements, the worst slums of Mulberry Bend were cleared to create a park, giving people a place to breathe and play. But where did the inhabitants go? O’Neill clearly admires Riis and presents his biography in clear, direct language that conveys the facts of his life along with the essence of his nature. Kelley’s ink-and-pastel illustrations in muted tones capture the gray dreariness of the scenes as well as dark shadows of interpretations of the photos. Backmatter includes detailed information of every aspect of Riis’ life and work, including several of Riis’ photos and quotes.

A thoughtful, well-researched homage to an almost forgotten hero. (author’s note, glossary, timeline, sources) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62979-866-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A dazzling picture book cut through with the thread and thrum of an inspiring but unsung life.

STITCH BY STITCH

ELIZABETH HOBBS KECKLY SEWS HER WAY TO FREEDOM

Schofield-Morrison fashions a poignant tribute to the remarkable life and craft of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Hobbs Keckly, a formerly enslaved woman who broke the color line in haute couture.

In straightforward prose seamlessly woven through with excerpts from Keckly’s 1868 autobiography, the text traces Keckly’s unlikely journey from a slave plantation to the White House. Born enslaved in Virginia in 1818, she survived a childhood of unutterable cruelty but set her mind to learning the craft of sewing from her mother. Sent by her master to work for a White tailor without pay, Keckly endured further hardships, but her talent and toil eventually earned her a clientele of affluent women. After purchasing freedom for herself and her son, she went on to become a successful businesswoman, highly sought-after tailoress, and trendsetting fashionista, even serving as the official dresser for first lady Mary Todd Lincoln. Zunon’s breathtaking and masterful mixed-media illustrations—incorporating oil, paint, fabric, ribbon, paper, embroidery, and appliqué—beautifully capture the artistry of Keckly’s dresses.

A dazzling picture book cut through with the thread and thrum of an inspiring but unsung life. (author’s note, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3963-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Inspirational but occasionally unclear.

JUST LIKE ME

Gooding's debut profiles 40 famous people with disabilities.

The author, a mother of children with disabilities, opens the book with a note about her desire to find role models for her children. To that end, she alphabetically introduces racially diverse disabled people from around the world and throughout history. Diagnoses range from autism to limb difference. Historical figures include Japanese peace advocate Sadako Sasaki, who developed leukemia after the bombing of Hiroshima, and American abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who led fellow slaves to freedom despite epilepsy. Contemporary figures include athletes, authors, and entertainers: Polio survivor and Paralympian Malathi Krishnamurthy-Holla remains "one of the fastest female Indian athletes in a wheelchair"; Japanese nonverbal author Naoki Higashida penned popular books describing autism; English actor Daniel Radcliffe deals with dyspraxia, a coordination disorder; and Australian Madeline Stuart is the first professional model with Down syndrome. Each profile begins with an uplifting quote and concludes with a sidebar explaining the subject’s disability. Unfortunately, some sidebars emphasize colloquial over scientific terms. For instance, Stephen Hawking’s disability is named eponymously (Lou Gehrig's disease), “also known as ALS,” instead of with its scientific name, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Occasionally, vague phrasing creates confusion, such as when the author writes that a speech-generating device enabled Hawking to communicate by using a “touchpad.” (A hand clicker became his primary input method.) Various illustrators’ realistic renditions of smiling subjects complement the upbeat (albeit somewhat dry) text.

Inspirational but occasionally unclear. (glossary, quote sources) (Collective biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-78741-848-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Bonnier/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more