A useful addition to the nonfiction shelves, if not as charismatic as it subject.

COLIN KAEPERNICK

This slim graphic biography of the former NFL player begins at his birth and adoption and ends with his life as an activist.

Hoena shows Colin’s childhood: Born to an unwed white mother and a black father, he is adopted as a baby into a white family. He excels academically and in sports, starting football at age 8 and standing out for his strong arm. Readers then see Kaepernick playing football, baseball, and basketball in high school. He is later recruited to play college baseball, but his heart is in football, and he finds success on the college gridiron before the San Francisco 49ers pick him in the 2011 draft. The fourth and final chapter moves from routine athletic coverage when Eric Garner and Michael Brown are killed by police. Amid Black Lives Matter protests, Kaepernick takes the stand for which he has become famous—or infamous, depending on the circle: kneeling during the national anthem at games. Reactions to his controversial actions, including the spread of #takeaknee, his exit from the league, and his work with youth occupy the final pages. Each volume in Hoena’s Athletes Who Made a Difference series is structured similarly, using a graphic-novel presentation that works well to showcase the active sports and news content, although it is unfortunate that the simplified cartoon style sometimes obscures the iconic features of these famous athletes. The Kaepernick volume balances biography and sports in a way that will interest all readers, particularly in contrast with Serena Williams, also illustrated by LeDoyen, which is heavy on sports facts and offers less-satisfying biography. Rounding out the set are Jackie Robinson and Jesse Owens, both illustrated by David Shephard.

A useful addition to the nonfiction shelves, if not as charismatic as it subject. (afterword, key facts, sources, glossary, further information) (Graphic biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7817-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012).

UGLY

A memoir of the first 14 years in the life of Australian Robert Hoge, born with stunted legs and a tumor in the middle of his face.

In 1972, Robert is born, the youngest of five children, with fishlike eyes on the sides of his face, a massive lump in place of his nose, and malformed legs. As baby Robert is otherwise healthy, the doctors convince his parents to approve the first of many surgeries to reduce his facial difference. One leg is also amputated, and Robert comes home to his everyday white, working-class family. There's no particular theme to the tale of Robert's next decade and a half: he experiences school and teasing, attempts to participate in sports, and is shot down by a girl. Vignette-driven choppiness and the lack of an overarching narrative would make the likeliest audience be those who seek disability stories. However, young Robert's ongoing quest to identify as "normal"—a quest that remains unchanged until a sudden turnaround on the penultimate page—risks alienating readers comfortable with their disabilities. Brief lyrical moments ("as compulsory as soggy tomato sandwiches at snack time") appeal but are overwhelmed by the dry, distant prose dominating this autobiography.

An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012). (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-425-28775-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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An interesting portrait of an American mover and shaker refreshingly presented in graphic novel format.

SHIRLEY CHISHOLM: A GRAPHIC NOVEL

From the It's Her Story series

“Fighting Shirley” was no ordinary politician.

The story opens in Barbados, where Shirley Chisolm spent a relatively carefree early childhood with her sister, Muriel, on their grandparents’ farm. Upon being sent to live with her parents in Brooklyn, Shirley had to adjust to much stricter household rules. She excelled academically throughout her school years, and after graduating from Brooklyn College, began her teaching career in early childhood education. As an administrator of child care centers, Chisolm devoted herself to child welfare and community affairs. Her work put her in touch with the needs of working people and their families, and she labored ceaselessly to get candidates elected who would make meaningful changes. Eventually, she decided to run for office herself and became the second Black woman elected to the New York Assembly and, after that, the country’s first Black congresswoman. Aggs relates how Chisholm dedicated her efforts to improving the lives of her constituents, often finding herself at loggerheads with colleagues. Chisholm’s boldness and desire for change led her to seek the Democratic Party nomination for president of the United States. Although she was unsuccessful, her groundbreaking campaign was a momentous sociopolitical event. This lively, optimistic biography is an accessible introduction to Chisholm’s life for younger readers, highlighting her determination to stay true to herself and her ideals. The illustrations aren’t particularly original, but the colorful panels effectively propel the narrative.

An interesting portrait of an American mover and shaker refreshingly presented in graphic novel format. (Graphic biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5037-6241-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Sunbird Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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