Unusual and fascinating but flawed.

DOCTOR ESPERANTO AND THE LANGUAGE OF HOPE

Leyzer Zamenhof hated war and conflict.

He lived in late-19th-century Bialystok (then part of the Russian Empire), where a diverse, distrustful population spoke many languages. He believed that a common language could bring everyone together, so he began the task of inventing that language. His first attempts were failures, lacking predictable patterns. Adjusting words that already existed worked better, especially those that had similar construction or sounds and could be put together in a logical structure. But while he was studying medicine in Moscow, his early work was destroyed. With his wife’s help, he began again, revising and refining his concepts. He signed his work “Dr. Esperanto,” his language’s word for “one who hopes.” Eventually, a large group of followers from all over the world came to love this language of peace and honor the person who created it. Rockliff recounts the events simply, focusing on insights into Leyzer’s motives and processes in the construction of Esperanto vocabulary, but much is omitted from the primary narrative. Material in the afterword more clearly explains the development of the language and further relevant details about Zamenhof, including the fact that he was a Jew. Dzierzawska’s digitally assembled pencil-and-ink illustrations complement the text and depict time and setting, also providing visual mapping of vocabulary development. The languages that Zamenhof used as a base for Esperanto are never named in the text or labeled in the illustrations, nor, frustratingly, are the Esperanto phrases translated.

Unusual and fascinating but flawed. (sources) (Picture book/biography. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8915-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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An interesting portrait of an American mover and shaker refreshingly presented in graphic novel format.

SHIRLEY CHISHOLM: A GRAPHIC NOVEL

From the It's Her Story series

“Fighting Shirley” was no ordinary politician.

The story opens in Barbados, where Shirley Chisolm spent a relatively carefree early childhood with her sister, Muriel, on their grandparents’ farm. Upon being sent to live with her parents in Brooklyn, Shirley had to adjust to much stricter household rules. She excelled academically throughout her school years, and after graduating from Brooklyn College, began her teaching career in early childhood education. As an administrator of child care centers, Chisolm devoted herself to child welfare and community affairs. Her work put her in touch with the needs of working people and their families, and she labored ceaselessly to get candidates elected who would make meaningful changes. Eventually, she decided to run for office herself and became the second Black woman elected to the New York Assembly and, after that, the country’s first Black congresswoman. Aggs relates how Chisholm dedicated her efforts to improving the lives of her constituents, often finding herself at loggerheads with colleagues. Chisholm’s boldness and desire for change led her to seek the Democratic Party nomination for president of the United States. Although she was unsuccessful, her groundbreaking campaign was a momentous sociopolitical event. This lively, optimistic biography is an accessible introduction to Chisholm’s life for younger readers, highlighting her determination to stay true to herself and her ideals. The illustrations aren’t particularly original, but the colorful panels effectively propel the narrative.

An interesting portrait of an American mover and shaker refreshingly presented in graphic novel format. (Graphic biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5037-6241-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Sunbird Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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At its best when the emphasis is on the skill and artistry of Mime’s most accomplished practitioner—alas, too much of the...

MARCEL MARCEAU

MASTER OF MIME

The legendary mime is introduced to a new generation, though not entirely successfully.

As a child, Marceau loved to silently entertain his friends, like his idol, Charlie Chaplin. During the Nazi occupation of France, Marcel and his brother took on new identities in the French Underground, where they forged documents for Jewish children and helped many to escape to Switzerland. Spielman assumes that her young audience will understand references to deportation and concentration camps; unfortunately for those that don't, her matter-of-fact tone speaks more of adventure than deadly peril. Her tone subtly changes when she lovingly describes Marceau’s training and development as a mime and his stage persona of Bip the clown, admiring his skills in the “art of silence” that won him international renown. But here too, comparisons to the Little Tramp and Pierrot may be outside readers’ frame of reference. Though the illustrations carefully complement the textual content with period details, Gauthier’s cartoon faces are all nearly identical, with only the screen image of Chaplin and Marceau’s Bip having distinctive features. A double-page spread at the conclusion provides photographs of Bip in action and is the only clear indication of Marceau’s stagecraft.

At its best when the emphasis is on the skill and artistry of Mime’s most accomplished practitioner—alas, too much of the book looks elsewhere. (Picture book/biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7613-3961-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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