Spy fans and cryptographers will seek this one out.


From the Spy on History series

A strong main character and an engaging story make for a revolutionary read.

The career of Anna Strong occupies a fascinating footnote in American history. Was she merely a farmer’s wife, or was she a member of one of the most daring spy rings in our country’s history? The pseudonymous author presents a fictionalized version of Anna’s life in the third volume of the Spy on History series. The examination begins during the throes of the American Revolution. After Anna’s husband is imprisoned and then freed, thanks to Anna’s family connections, and returns to patriot-controlled Connecticut, Anna is pulled into a plot to signal a fellow patriot and pass along information. The plan is simple: Anna uses a black petticoat and a series of handkerchiefs to relay a meeting place. “Alberti” pulls readers into the chaos of Anna’s life (and the war) through an omniscient narrator that documents Anna’s movements over the next year. Astute readers will also realize the dangers women faced from soldiers (and fellow countrymen) during this period. Terry’s loose, two-color illustrations depict an all-white cast and provide an additional sense of movement to the text. The trade edition includes a "Spycraft Kit" in the form of an enclosed envelope with inserts for solving a final coded mystery; the library edition publishes without these inclusions for ease of circulation. Backmatter explains the history of the Culper Spy Ring and its role in exposing Gen. Benedict Arnold.

Spy fans and cryptographers will seek this one out. (historical note, answers, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0216-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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This broad take on “firsts” is unusually rich in lesser-known figures and feats.



From the Who Did It First? series

A crew of achievers, mostly of recent vintage, STEAMs up to provide inspiration and role modeling.

Leung includes outliers Isaac Newton and 18th-century professor Maria Gaetana Agnesi in her gallery, but she favors figures of the past two centuries—all of whom made at least some contribution in science, technology, engineering, the arts, or mathematics that can be classified a “first.” Seventeen of the profiles are just thumbnails, gathered into two inserted chapters; the others each receive a full-page tribute that focuses less on biographical detail than on the highlighted achievement. Some of the firsts are so hung about with qualifiers that they at least seem only marginally significant (Jennifer Yuh Nelson: “The first woman to solely direct an animated feature from a major Hollywood studio, 2011”). Most, however, merit huzzahs (Mary Golda Ross: “The first female engineer for Lockheed, 1942,” and a member of the Cherokee Nation to boot), and many are likely to be new to young readers. Each entry features a motivational quote or two, some of which occupy entire pages of their own, and, from Kuhwald, a stylized but easily recognizable portrait placed in an evocative setting. The roster earns high marks for diversity, as it includes 36 women and 20 people of color or who identify as Latinx.

This broad take on “firsts” is unusually rich in lesser-known figures and feats. (timeline, illustrator’s note, resource list) (Collective biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-21171-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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