Humorous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful.

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THE GENIUS UNDER THE TABLE

GROWING UP BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN

Yelchin delivers a darkly humorous slice-of-life account of growing up in the Soviet Union.

Living with his mother, father, brother, and grandmother in a tiny room inside a communal apartment in Leningrad, young Yevgeny does not have much privacy. He sleeps underneath the family table, where he spends his nights drawing in secret on the underside of the table. He draws to try to make sense of the confusing world around him, where neighbors spy on one another, everyone seems to be keeping secrets, and only the most remarkable, talented citizens are allowed luxuries like private apartments, cars, and the opportunity to travel outside the country. Yevgeny’s older brother is a talented figure skater, and his parents are desperate to uncover a latent talent in him so that he can make a good life for himself, yet he unwittingly foils their well-meaning attempts in several comical incidents. Furthermore, the family’s Jewish identity puts them at a disadvantage in a country where antisemitism regularly rears its ugly head. Yelchin’s line drawings, re-created from his childhood sketches under the table, punctuate his story with visual humor and pathos. The vivid dialogue exchanged among his elders provides comic relief to many of the stark situations depicted as Yevgeny tries to hang onto hope amid the chaos and uses what considerable artistic talent he certainly possesses to try to envision a better future for himself and his family.

Humorous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful. (Memoir. 10-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1552-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

THURGOOD

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

From the They Did What? series

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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