HOW TO DIE OF EMBARRASSMENT EVERY DAY

Hodgman looks back humorously at her 1960s childhood in the Rochester, N.Y., area, recalling incidents that pained her at the time or seem embarrassing in retrospect. There was the way she bragged about her reading before she knew better, the fourth-grade nickname (Hampton Schnoz) bestowed by a classmate she’d asked about her appearance and the total lack of athletic ability that left her at the bottom of the climbing ropes. She includes poems from her “bird sequence,” written in third grade. Not all events are mortifying. Some just reflect what it was like to be young at the time. There is the longed-for Petunia the Climbing Skunk from F.A.O. Schwartz that she didn't get for Christmas, a lovely description of birthday-party entertainments that includes Spiderweb and the Kim Game and the scary school-bus driver who threatened his misbehaving passengers with a rifle. Some anecdotes are very short; others go on for several pages. Occasional photographs of herself and her husband, as well as both their families back to their grandparents, will help readers picture these children from long ago. There is no hint of the larger political turmoil of the time. Rueful, funny and nostalgic, this will ring true to parents and grandparents and may be even more appealing to them than to a child readership—whose impression of the 1960s will be very different. (Memoir. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8705-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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Ocasio-Cortez may be a “trailblazer” who “walks her talk,” but this is addressed to readers who already know that.

THE ABCS OF AOC

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ FROM A TO Z

An alphabetic double fanfare for the 116th Congress’ youngest elected member.

In a misapplied apparent effort to reach two tiers of future voters, Wilson runs through the alphabet twice, assigning a character trait or, more often, broad issue to each letter—“Democracy” and “Jobs” on up to “Xenophobia” and, finally, “Zeal”—and unpacking it…briefly at first, then later, on a second go-round, in slightly more detail but at the same general reading level. Thus, under A for “Advocate,” readers learn that “Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez works to enact laws that will change lives for the better” in her community, and then, in the second alphabet, that she has a progressive platform and a Green New Deal. Unfortunately, the author renders moot her own argument that AOC is a true “Revolutionary” rather than just a “reformer” by describing how she won election to “Congress” by gathering “Grassroots” support, backs at least most of her chosen party’s policies, and places high value on “Teamwork.” Aside from mentions of the Afro-Latinx representative’s Bronx childhood and Jewish forebears, her family and private life remain largely unexplored. Leaving the second alphabet a set of boxed narrative blocks, Quiles illustrates the first with scenes of Ocasio-Cortez dancing, speaking, or hanging out with racially diverse supporters in urban settings.

Ocasio-Cortez may be a “trailblazer” who “walks her talk,” but this is addressed to readers who already know that. (endnotes) (Informational picture book. 10-12, adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-49514-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

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THE 25 GREATEST BASEBALL PLAYERS OF ALL TIME

In no particular order and using no set criteria for his selections, veteran sportscaster Berman pays tribute to an arbitrary gallery of baseball stars—all familiar names and, except for the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, retired from play for decades. Repeatedly taking the stance that statistics are just numbers but then reeling off batting averages, home-run totals, wins (for pitchers) and other data as evidence of greatness, he offers career highlights in a folksy narrative surrounded by photos, side comments and baseball-card–style notes in side boxes. Readers had best come to this with some prior knowledge, since he casually drops terms like “slugging percentage,” “dead ball era” and “barnstorming” without explanation and also presents a notably superficial picture of baseball’s history—placing the sport’s “first half-century” almost entirely in the 1900s, for instance, and condescendingly noting that Jackie Robinson’s skill led Branch Rickey to decide that he “was worthy of becoming the first black player to play in the majors.” The awesome feats of Ruth, Mantle, the Gibsons Bob and Josh, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and the rest are always worth a recap—but this one’s strictly minor league. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4022-3886-4

Page Count: 138

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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