It’s inspiring, but it presents Lomong more as an object lesson than as a living person.

LOPEZ LOMONG

WE'RE ALL DESTINED TO USE OUR TALENT TO CHANGE PEOPLE'S LIVES

From the What Really Matters series

The story of a Sudanese “Lost Boy” who pursued and achieved his dream of running in the Olympics.

Seized at age 6 from his village by “rebel soldiers,” Lopepe (a nickname in his native Buya later altered to “Lopez”) escapes with other captives and runs for days to reach the U.N. refugee camp of Kakuma in Kenya. One day he joins a group of children watching the 2000 Olympics on a farmer’s battery-powered TV, and the sight of runner Michael Johnson fires up his ambition to become an Olympian himself. His adoption by a white New York couple and his recruitment by the trainer of a local high school’s cross-country team sends him on his way—to, ultimately, not only the 2008 (and, unacknowledged here, 2012) Games, but a joyful reunion with his biological parents, college, and a foundation dedicated to relief work in South Sudan. Except for name-dropping (notably a reference to “Brittany, the love of his life,” who gets no further mention) Eulate’s account is sketchy, particularly after Lomong’s arrival in the U.S., and thickly sentimental: he last appears figuratively receiving “the medal life gives you when you fulfill your dreams.” Uyá’s illustrations are likewise spare of detail, with stylized, folk-art–like human figures stiffly posed against near-featureless backgrounds.

It’s inspiring, but it presents Lomong more as an object lesson than as a living person. (Picture book/biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-84-16733-15-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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A sensitive, discussable access point for children learning about Holocaust history.

JARS OF HOPE

HOW ONE WOMAN HELPED SAVE 2,500 CHILDREN DURING THE HOLOCAUST

The brave work of Irena Sendler, one of the righteous gentiles of World War II, is succinctly depicted in this new picture book.

“There are two kinds of people in this world, good and bad.” As a child, wise words from her father gave Irena a guiding principle to live by and prompted the adult Sendler to find ways to save 2,500 innocent Jewish children and babies from the horror of their Holocaust fate. She worked with a network of smugglers and shelters to hide them in carpentry boxes, vegetable sacks, and laundry piles, transporting them to orphanages and the homes of willing Christian foster families, recording the children’s names so they could be found later and burying her lists in the titular jars. And when she herself was imprisoned by the Nazis, Zegota, the Polish resistance group, bribed guards to free her so she could continue her important work. Digital and traditional art in opaque dark browns and grays illustrates the sinister period and shadowy existence of these saved children. Roy’s chronological narrative concentrates on the period from 1940 to 1944 and stresses Sendler’s heroism; it also includes invented scenes and dialogue, marking it as fiction.

A sensitive, discussable access point for children learning about Holocaust history. (afterword, author’s note, glossary, index, source notes) (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62370-425-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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The story’s focus on Gabe, as cranky and independent as his human, makes for a surprisingly accessible introduction to the...

GABE

A STORY OF ME, MY DOG, AND THE 1970S

Just as Steinbeck took Charley on his travels, teenage Gill went with Gabe: “Home was where your friends were, so Gabe and I became each other’s home.”

More in search of a satisfactory place to settle down than some nebulous America, Gill recalls leaving home at 17 and meeting the blue merle husky mix that became her canine companion in a first aid tent at a 1972 Rainbow Tribe festival in Colorado. From there, the two hitchhiked to New Orleans, then onward across the country before fetching up, ultimately, in Alaska. As a late, glancing reference to marriage and divorce indicates, Gill leaves a lot out, but what she includes strings both simple adventures and emotionally complex moments one after another into an episodic but loving tribute. She describes living in the French Quarter, where “overdoses and pistol-whippings by the police were common,” losing her beloved dog and then being joyfully reunited, raising a litter of husky pups abandoned by their mother, and, in later years, running an Iditarod and finally holding Gabe in her arms as old age takes him. The tale is printed on full-bleed color paintings that add considerably to their vividness by centering on the author’s independent, confident-looking figure and on a dog that, as often as not, is posed with teeth bared in a feral snarl.

The story’s focus on Gabe, as cranky and independent as his human, makes for a surprisingly accessible introduction to the 1970s for middle graders. (afterword) (Graphic memoir. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-57091-354-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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