Engaging episodes, not beyond the ken of the current generation and lit with just enough sentiment to give them a warm glow.

MARSHFIELD MEMORIES

MORE STORIES ABOUT GROWING UP

A second set of childhood memories from the author of Marshfield Dreams (2005)—these spun around the feeling of being an “in-betweener” in his family as eldest of eight (later nine) siblings.

Fletcher opens with an elaborate neighborhood map (“Marshfield was my Middle-earth,” he writes) and goes on in short chapters to recall the pleasures—and sometimes tribulations—of being a Boy Scout, playing marbles, joining a muddy scramble to gather a bucket full of frogs, having the house to himself for a day, getting a pocket transistor radio, and like treasured moments around age 10. Other memories, such as learning that a Sunday school acquaintance who shared his love for chocolate Necco Wafers had died and seeing his school bus driver Ruben Gonsalves silently watch his son get slapped (wondering since if the 1964 incident would have even happened in his “white town…but for the color of their skin”), spark more complex responses. In an epilogue he tallies other less halcyon memories, capped by the later death of a brother covered in greater detail in the previous volume. Still, like the mock funeral his friends gave him when he and his family moved away from Marshfield, readers will find these reminiscences “sad, funny, a little weird, and very sweet.”

Engaging episodes, not beyond the ken of the current generation and lit with just enough sentiment to give them a warm glow. (Memoir. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62779-524-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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Late, lubberly, unlikely to survive fitter treatments.

WHEN DARWIN SAILED THE SEA

UNCOVER HOW DARWIN'S REVOLUTIONARY IDEAS HELPED CHANGE THE WORLD

Long retraces the courses of both Darwin’s voyage aboard the Beagle and the growth of his epochal insight into evolution’s driving mechanism.

Trailing a flotilla of publications over the past decade celebrating the 200th anniversary of the naturalist’s birth and the 150th of his magnum opus, this unexceptional account sails a course that has been more ably navigated—most recently, for example, in Fabien Grolleau’s graphic Darwin: Voyage of the Beagle (2019) and annotated, illustrated adaptations of On the Origin of Species by Rebecca Stefoff (2018) and Sabina Radeva (2019). Notable here is how the influential role that John Edmonstone, a formerly enslaved taxidermist from Guyana, played in shaping the young Darwin’s interests and skills is highlighted in both the narrative and with a full-page portrait by Kalda (who also adds staid views of modern students of various ethnicities, including one wearing a hijab, into the closing summary). Many other important predecessors and colleagues are relegated to an appendix, however. The author also tries to sail too close to the wind with blanket claims that before Darwin scientists reckoned Earth’s age in just thousands of years (not all of them) and that Origin actually kicked off the “long-running battle between science and religion” (Galileo, among others, might disagree). Stick with more seaworthy vessels.

Late, lubberly, unlikely to survive fitter treatments. (glossary, timeline) (Illustrated biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: July 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4968-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Well-informed and much-idealized if not entirely simplistic pictures of both the great man and his bustling estate.

THOMAS JEFFERSON

A DAY AT MONTICELLO

Stepping carefully around the controversies, a former curator at Monticello reconstructs the septuagenarian Jefferson’s active daily round.

Jefferson’s fixed routine begins with a faithful recording of temperature and weather at first rising and ends with a final period of solitary reading by candlelight in his unusual alcove bed. In between, the author describes in often fussy detail the range of his interests and enterprises. There’s not only his “polygraph” and other beloved gadgets, but also meals, family members, visitors, and excursions to Monticello’s diverse gardens, workshops and outbuildings. Like the dialogue, which mixes inventions with historical utterances, the generous suite of visuals includes photos of furnishings and artifacts as well as stodgy full-page tableaux and vignettes painted by Elliott. The “slaves” or “enslaved” workers (the author uses the terms interchangeably) that Jefferson encounters through the day are all historical and named—but Sally Hemings and her Jeffersonian offspring are conspicuously absent (aside from a brief name check buried in the closing timeline). Jefferson adroitly sidesteps a pointed question from his grandson, who accompanies him on his rounds, by pleading his age: “The work of ending slavery is for the young.”

Well-informed and much-idealized if not entirely simplistic pictures of both the great man and his bustling estate. (sidebars, endnotes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0541-0

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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