PAINTING THE WILD FRONTIER

THE ART AND ADVENTURES OF GEORGE CATLIN

With graceful writing and fascinating artwork, this well-designed biography explores the work and adventures of George Catlin. Best known for his many paintings of American Indians, Catlin traveled extensively in the American West and South America in the mid-1800s. He lived rough and encountered many dangers, some life-threatening. His own writing proves a fertile source of lively stories and quotations: He described being attacked by a jaguar that he was hunting, possibly for its tail, which he recommended for its “deliciousness of flavor.” Reich places Catlin’s life in the context of art history and provides an overview of the Indian tribes he encountered and their plights. The complex portrait of Catlin is even-handed; he hoped to champion the cause of Indians but also partly exploited them to make his living. While he created a remarkable historical record, his family suffered financially and by his prolonged absences. An author’s note addresses the challenges of a white author’s writing about Indians and the reliability of Catlin’s writing. A handsome, well-documented volume. (timeline, endnotes, bibliography; map, index not seen) (Biography. 12 & up)

Pub Date: July 21, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-618-71470-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

GENIUS OF COMMON SENSE

JANE JACOBS AND THE STORY OF THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES

Jane Jacobs is an unlikely subject for a school assignment, which is unfortunate, as being required to do research would be the most likely way that many readers will discover this brief but comprehensive biography. A writer with varied experience, Jacobs brought a wealth of knowledge along with her personal convictions to her work as an activist and critic of the status quo. At a time when city planners were determined to conquer urban blight by destroying buildings and uprooting communities, Jacobs argued for a vision of cities as vibrant, functioning systems whose positive growth could be fostered. That she did so successfully without a degree and during the 1950s and ’60s, a time when women’s contributions were often overlooked, is impressive indeed. Better known in Canada, where she moved in 1968, Jacobs may be unfamiliar to many teens, but she is definitely worthy of their attention. Wunsch and Lang have done readers a service in introducing her so effectively, including black-and-white photos and drawings as well as diagrams to augment their text. Push during Women’s History Month and at every other opportunity. (Biography. 12 & up)

Pub Date: April 2, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-56792-384-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Godine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A DANGEROUS ENGINE

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, FROM SCIENTIST TO DIPLOMAT

Dash ably covers Franklin’s life from first days to last, but what sets this apart from the plethora of similar portraits is her particular focus on his lifelong interest in science and invention. Ever the amateur, he gathered a group of like-minded “Franklinists” to perform electrical experiments and pranks, like electrifying the iron fence around his house, “for the amusement of visitors,” writes Dash. He took measurements of the Gulf Stream, closely observed natural phenomena on land and sea, fiddled with magic squares and corresponded regularly with many fellow enquirers on both sides of the Atlantic—along with inventing (though deliberately never patenting) a stove, the lightning rod, bifocals, the “glass armonica” and much else. Characterizing Franklin as a “speckled” man, who “changed, took up new roles, found new motives within himself” over his long career, Dash also recounts his later diplomatic triumphs in full, without glossing over his youthful misadventures or occasional lack of candor. Readers will come away with a profound understanding of this great man’s mind, heart, achievements and—with some help from Petricic’s witty line drawings—sense of fun. (annotated bibliography, end notes) (Biography. 12+)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2006

ISBN: 0-374-30669-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more