An energetic portrayal of O’Neil’s accomplishments that excludes historical and social background.

THE FASTEST GIRL ON EARTH!

MEET KITTY O'NEIL, DAREDEVIL DRIVER!

A sportswoman who was unstoppable.

Born in 1946 and Deaf from age 2, Kitty O’Neil was an active child from the get-go and went on to become a world-record breaker (holder of the women’s land-speed record and fastest quarter mile in auto history, among others), a stunt performer featured in movies and television, and an athlete who succeeded in a wide array of sports, including boat racing, diving, waterskiing, karate, cycling, skating, and horseback riding. How did she do it? From childhood, she wanted to be “the fastest girl on Earth,” and she continually focused on her goals and practiced while thriving on the breathtaking exhilaration of speed. Though at times a bit unwieldy, the illustrations of the determined woman in action overall match the enthusiasm of the animated, appealing, and accessible text. A book with a Deaf hero that doesn’t focus on Deafness and a tale of a feminist icon that doesn’t focus on sex, this selection presents O’Neil’s achievements without context; the challenges O’Neil presumably faced as a Deaf and female athlete go unmentioned. Readers learn in the aftermatter that O'Neil was also of Cherokee descent, an otherwise unexplored aspect of her identity. In making this decision, the author chose to focus on O’Neil’s accomplishments, which are astounding on their own. While the absence of contextual information is a pity, what’s here is bound to engage and excite readers and may inspire them to discover more about this unique, driven athlete and her love of speed. (This book was reviewed digitally.) (Editor's note: This review has been updated to clarify the subject's Native identity.)

An energetic portrayal of O’Neil’s accomplishments that excludes historical and social background. (author's note, notes, resources) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12571-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston...

BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET

A memorable, lyrical reverse-chronological walk through the life of an American icon.

In free verse, Cline-Ransome narrates the life of Harriet Tubman, starting and ending with a train ride Tubman takes as an old woman. “But before wrinkles formed / and her eyes failed,” Tubman could walk tirelessly under a starlit sky. Cline-Ransome then describes the array of roles Tubman played throughout her life, including suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. By framing the story around a literal train ride, the Ransomes juxtapose the privilege of traveling by rail against Harriet’s earlier modes of travel, when she repeatedly ran for her life. Racism still abounds, however, for she rides in a segregated train. While the text introduces readers to the details of Tubman’s life, Ransome’s use of watercolor—such a striking departure from his oil illustrations in many of his other picture books—reveals Tubman’s humanity, determination, drive, and hope. Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson’s Moses (2006). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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