Valuable and inspiring, though lacking needed context.

NO STEPS BEHIND

BEATE SIROTA GORDON'S BATTLE FOR WOMEN'S RIGHTS IN JAPAN

The Japanese women’s suffrage movement as viewed through the accomplishments of a remarkable immigrant.

Beate Sirota Gordon (1923-2012), daughter of Russian and Austrian Jews, moved at the age of 5 with her family to Tokyo, where she was immersed in Japanese language and culture. The outbreak of World War II formed a backdrop to college studies in California that opened her eyes to gender equality. In 1945, Gordon returned to Japan as an interpreter for the occupying U.S. Army. There, she drafted clauses for the new Japanese Constitution that granted Japanese women suffrage as well as protection from gender-based discrimination. Gordon’s story is a remarkable tribute to the value of bilingualism, cross-cultural competency, and courageous commitment to justice. Unfortunately, Japanese feminists’ efforts—which suffered setbacks due to economic depression and the outbreak of war—are touched upon only glancingly, and the grinding poverty that led to fathers’ selling “daughters like fish at the market” is not mentioned. The book risks being read as a white-savior narrative in which the wretched Japanese were reformed by an enlightened foreigner importing ideas from a culture that was in fact facing struggles of its own; by saying little about the legal and cultural barriers to equality that many Americans also faced, readers are left without valuable historical context. The richly colored paintings uplift the story, conveying strong emotion and drama through expressive facial expressions and varied perspectives.

Valuable and inspiring, though lacking needed context. (author’s note, references, bibliographic notes, timeline) (Picture book/biography. 7-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-939547-55-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Several unexpected connections, though Eurocentric overall and lacking in racial diversity.

HEAD TO HEAD

18 LINKED PORTRAITS OF PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD

Renowned achievers go nose-to-nose on fold-out pages.

Mixing contemporary celebrities with historical figures, Corbineau pairs off his gallery of full-page portraits by theme, the images all reworked from photos or prints into cut-paper collages with highly saturated hues. Gandhi and Rosa Parks exemplify nonviolent protest; Mother Teresa and Angelina Jolie are (mostly) commended for their work with impoverished people; and a “common point” between Gutenberg and Mark Zuckerberg is that both revolutionized the ways we communicate. The portraits, on opposite ends of gatefolds, open to reveal short biographies flanking explanatory essays. Women and people of color are distinctly underrepresented. There are a few surprises, such as guillotined French playwright Olympe de Gouges, linked for her feminism with actress Emma Watson; extreme free-fall jumper Felix Baumgartner, paired with fellow aerialist record-seeker Amelia Earhart; and Nelson Mandela’s co–freedom fighter Jean Moulin, a leader of the French Resistance. In another departure from the usual run of inspirational panegyrics, Cornabas slips in the occasional provocative claim, noting that many countries considered Mandela’s African National Congress a terrorist organization and that Mother Teresa, believing that suffering was “a gift from God,” rarely gave her patients painkillers. Although perhaps only some of these subjects “changed the world” in any significant sense, all come off as admirable—for their ambition, strength of character, and drive.

Several unexpected connections, though Eurocentric overall and lacking in racial diversity. (map, timeline) (Collective biography. 8-11)

Pub Date: yesterday

ISBN: 978-0-7643-6226-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Schiffer

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable...

THE BRAVE CYCLIST

THE TRUE STORY OF A HOLOCAUST HERO

An extraordinary athlete was also an extraordinary hero.

Gino Bartali grew up in Florence, Italy, loving everything about riding bicycles. After years of studying them and years of endurance training, he won the 1938 Tour de France. His triumph was muted by the outbreak of World War II, during which Mussolini followed Hitler in the establishment of anti-Jewish laws. In the middle years of the conflict, Bartali was enlisted by a cardinal of the Italian church to help Jews by becoming a document courier. His skill as a cyclist and his fame helped him elude capture until 1944. When the war ended, he kept his clandestine efforts private and went on to win another Tour de France in 1948. The author’s afterword explains why his work was unknown. Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum, honored him as a Righteous Among the Nations in 2013. Bartali’s is a life well worth knowing and well worthy of esteem. Fedele’s illustrations in mostly dark hues will appeal to sports fans with their action-oriented scenes. Young readers of World War II stories will gain an understanding from the somber wartime pages.

What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable springboard. (photograph, select bibliography, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68446-063-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more