A concise but thorough and cohesive overview of pandemics from ancient times to 2020.

Each of the seven chapters in this work describes pandemics from different time periods and geographical areas. Opening with a chart showing the death tolls of 20 different pandemics, the introduction notes that the grim reality of corpses piling up in New York City in spring 2020 is just one commonality among worldwide deathly contagions. Opening with ancient plagues, the text clarifies the distinction between epidemic and pandemic and explains the link between agricultural societies and pandemics. Throughout, the text offers food for thought, including strong evidence that European plagues led to socio-economic upheaval, social restructuring, and religious crises while diseases brought to the Americas by Europeans created deadly and psychologically damaging burdens to Indigenous and enslaved African people. Other topics covered include the science behind vaccinations; parallels between people in 1918 and 2020 who rejected public health advice; and inhumane behaviors during pandemics. The final chapter, dealing with our current pandemic, discusses political factors and social inequalities relating to Covid-19 in the U.S., ending on a cautionary note. The pace of the writing is generally good, and the layout is excellent, with relevant photographs and plenty of helpful sidebars. Fascinating—and sometimes grisly—quotations from long-ago writers about ancient plagues and stories from modern survivors of the Spanish flu, polio, and HIV put a human face on the suffering.

Timely and worthwhile. (source notes, further reading, index, picture credits) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-6782-0042-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: ReferencePoint Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author.


From the Pocket Change Collective series

Deaf, trans artist Man meditates on his journey and identity in this brief memoir.

Growing up in conservative central Pennsylvania was tough for the 21-year-old Deaf, genderqueer, pansexual, and biracial (Chinese/White Jewish) author. He describes his gender and sexual identity, his experiences of racism and ableism, and his desire to use his visibility as a YouTube personality, model, and actor to help other young people like him. He is open and vulnerable throughout, even choosing to reveal his birth name. Man shares his experiences of becoming deaf as a small child and at times feeling ostracized from the Deaf community but not how he arrived at his current Deaf identity. His description of his gender-identity development occasionally slips into a well-worn pink-and-blue binary. The text is accompanied and transcended by the author’s own intriguing, expressionistic line drawings. However, Man ultimately falls short of truly insightful reflection or analysis, offering a mostly surface-level account of his life that will likely not be compelling to readers who are not already fans. While his visibility and success as someone whose life represents multiple marginalized identities are valuable in themselves, this heartfelt personal chronicle would have benefited from deeper introspection.

Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author. (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22348-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Like many grammar books, this starts with parts of speech and goes on to sentence structure, punctuation, usage and style....


As she does in previous volumes—Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (2008) and The Grammar Devotional (2009)—Fogarty affects an earnest and upbeat tone to dissuade those who think a grammar book has to be “annoying, boring, and confusing” and takes on the role of “grammar guide, intent on demystifying grammar.”

Like many grammar books, this starts with parts of speech and goes on to sentence structure, punctuation, usage and style. Fogarty works hard to find amusing, even cheeky examples to illustrate the many faux pas she discusses: "Squiggly presumed that Grammar Girl would flinch when she saw the word misspelled as alot." Young readers may well look beyond the cheery tone and friendly cover, though, and find a 300+-page text that looks suspiciously schoolish and isn't really that different from the grammar texts they have known for years (and from which they have still not learned a lot of grammar). As William Strunk said in his introduction to the first edition of the little The Elements of Style, the most useful grammar guide concentrates attention “on a few essentials, the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated.” After that, “Students profit most by individual instruction based on the problems of their own work.” By being exhaustive, Fogarty may well have created just the kind of volume she hoped to avoid.

Pub Date: July 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8943-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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