Book review: Limitless: 24 Remarkable American Women of Vision, Grit, and Guts, by Leah Tinari

Tinari, Leah. Limitless: 24 Remarkable American Women of Vision, Grit, and Guts. Aladdin, 2018. $19.99. unp. ISBN 978-1-5344-1855-4. Ages 9-12. P7Q6

Each large, full-page graffiti-style face is accompanied by quotes of each woman to show boys that “women could be role models or heroes for them.” Each gouache drawing in black on white background is highlighted by a neon color—pink, green, blue, and orange. Brief biographies for these women born in the 19th and 20th centuries complete the book.

Verdict: Some of the quotes about the women are by men, and the book lacks diversity with the majority cis, straight, white, and not disabled. More of a coffee-table book, it is more useful for flipping through because the quotes don’t provide background information.

December 2018 review by Nel Ward.


Book review: The Origin of Day and Night, by Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt, illustrated by Lenny Lishchenko

Rumbolt, Paula Ikuutaq. The Origin of Day and Night. Illus. Lenny Lishchenko. Inhabit Media, 2018. $16.95. unp. ISBN 978-1-77227-180-5. Ages 4-7. P8Q7

The Inuit creation tale about the beginning of day and night highlights the consequences of words and an act of compromise between a hare, Ukaliq, and a fox, Tiri, in the Arctic. The nocturnal Tiri needs darkness for his hunts so he calls out “Taaq, taaq, taaq! Darkness, darkness, darkness!” to make it real. Ukaliq, who cannot see in the dark, responds by crying “Ubluq, ubluq, ubluq! Day, day, day!” to make light. Continued arguments about light versus dark lead to the decision of part light and part dark during each day so that both the fox and the hare can hunt for their food. Inuit storytellers have passed down the combination of an origin myth and a fable for hundreds of years.

Verdict: The line drawings on dark blue background highlighting Tiri’s darkness contrasts with drawings on white background to show Ukaliq’s perspective. A charming read-aloud that can also give young readers a background of Inuit mythology.

December 2018 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: I Am Sonia Sotomayor, by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos


Meltzer, Brad. I Am Sonia Sotomayor. Illus. by Christopher Eliopoulos. (Ordinary People Change the World series). Dial, 2018. $14.99. unp. ISBN 978-0-7352-2873-3. Ages 4-7. P4Q4

The latest in this series continues to use cartoon illustrations and comic book bubbles, this time to tell about the life of a Supreme Court justice.

Verdict: Sotomayor’s autobiographical picture book, Turning Pages: My Life Story, illustrated by Lulu Delacre, is a better buy.

December 2018 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Apollo 8: The Mission That Changed Everything, by Martin W. Sandler

Sandler, Martin W. Apollo 8: The Mission That Changed Everything. Candlewick, 2018. $24.99. 159p. ISBN 978-0-7636-9489-0. Ages 11-15. P7Q8

Competing with the Soviet Union’s push to land a person on the moon, NASA sent three human lunar landers for testing on an untried Saturn V rocket. The Apollo 11 moon landing is far better publicized, but The Apollo 8 journey offers a nerve-wracking adventure when the three men on the spacecraft—Bill Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell—lose communication with Earth. Photographs in both color and black & white include the famous 1968 shot of “Earthrise,” the first view of earth from space. The narrative, including first-person perspectives from the three travelers, are helped by sidebar histories and background that describe events of the time, the naming of moon features, people involved in the mission, and rocketry history. Also engaging are technical information about the navigation and the importance of the space travel’s cultural impact.

Verdict: The insets that sometimes cover several pages slow the pacing of the reading, but the book will be enjoyable for both studying the text and skimming through for the photographs. World events surrounding the mission such as the Vietnam War, protests, and the Cold War make this useful for a look of history during the second half of the 20th century.

December 2018 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Buried Lives: The Enslaved People of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, by Carla Killough McClafferty

McClafferty, Carla Killough. Buried Lives: The Enslaved People of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Holiday House, 2018. $24.99. 158p. ISBN 978-0-8234-3697-2. Ages 10-14. P5Q9

“The father of his country” who “led the fight for American freedom” owned ten slaves when he was only eleven years old and didn’t free any of the 123 slaves that he personally owned during his lifetime. McClafferty describes the lives of and experiences of six: William Lee, Christopher Sheels, Caroline Branham, Peter Hardiman, Ona Maria (Oney) Judge, and Hercules. They cared for Washington and his wife, Martha, sewed their clothes, made shoes, fought in the Revolutionary War, guarded his papers, and cooked for the hundreds of guests. The book finishes with the search for unmarked graves of slaves on the grounds of Mount Vernon, Washington’s home.

Verdict: This thought-provoking and meticulously research view of a usually ignored part of American history points out the ways that slaves and indentured servants eased the lives of their owners, who would go to any lengths to keep them enslaved. The archeological reclamation adds to the chapters about the six slaves along with drawings, maps, and documents. Oney Judge was featured in two recommended fictional books for young people, Ann Rinaldi’s Taking Liberty and Emily Arnold McCully’s The Escape of Oney Judge.

December 2018 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Flying Colors: A Guide to Flags from around the World, by Robert G. Fresson

Fresson, Robert G. Flying Colors: A Guide to Flags from around the World. Cicada, 2017. $22.95. 109p. ISBN 978-1-908714-46-6. Ages 8-12. P5Q9

History and culture of different countries are highlighted in this vexillology—a study of flags—that groups these emblems of different countries by color, elements, or design, i.e., tribands, crescent moons, stars, and red, white, and blue. The glossary at the beginning of the book, after a brief history of flag development, makes for easy reference, for example if the reader forgets the definition of fimbriation. Six whimsical creatures, each dressed in a different color, help provide explanations of the flags’ designs. The colorful vintage digitized illustrations provide landscapes across the bottom of the page in a few instances. Nine maps at the end of the book show all the countries of the world.

Verdict: The clarity of the text adds to the fascination of these facts, for example Afghanistan changing its flag 21 times, more than any other country. Although the book lacks an index, the table of contents lists the primary countries listed under each chapter. This is a book that people will pore over, learning new information with each reading. Highly recommended.

December 2018 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Ready for It, by Chusita Fashion Fever, illustrated by Maria Llovet

Chusita Fashion Fever. Ready for It. Illus. by Maria Llovet. Imprint/Macmillan, 2016. $19.99. 157p. ISBN 978-1-250-13388-5. Ages 14+. P9Q9

Issues surrounding sex can be difficult discussions, and this Spanish vlogger has written about an exploration of sexuality, describing both heterosexual and different forms of LGBTQ relationships. The emphasis on responsible and informed decisions with the importance that no one should feel pressured to engage in sexual relations underlies all the practical details of sexual involvement. The red and black on a white background format uses sidebars for health information and self-care, comic panels with conversations about the topics, and quizzes for discoveries of stages in relationships. Included are basic anatomy descriptions, terminology with definitions, and explicit explanations of sexual practices.

Verdict: The text is clear without being patronizing, and the illustrations and format add to the simplicity of the book. Chusita shows respect for her readers and never judges their choices. A short glossary is at the end of the book although there is no index. The book is highly recommended for all youth and adults.

December 2018 review by Nel Ward.