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Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History

Walter Dean Myers, illus. by Floyd Cooper. Harper, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-027709-3

The late Myers, former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, powerfully examines the life of Frederick Douglass, born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, exploring the role that literacy played as he endeavored to free himself from slavery and work toward equality for all. Working in his signature oil-and-eraser technique, Cooper creates a series of striking portraits of Douglass as an inquisitive child, a “tall, well built and very unhappy” youth, and as a statesman who “continued to work and speak for the rights of all Americans” even after the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. It’s a stirring testament to the power of words and daring action to create change. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Miriam Altshuler, DeFiore and Company. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/09/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe

Deborah Blumenthal, illus. by Laura Freeman. Little Bee, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4998-0239-9

The twin themes of injustice and hard work are woven into Blumenthal’s (The Blue House Dog) vivid biography of African-American designer Ann Cole Lowe, who learned to sew at a young age, took over her late mother’s business, and went on to design gowns that included dresses for Jacqueline Bouvier and John F. Kennedy’s wedding. Accented with buttons and lace, Freeman’s (the Nikki and Deja series) illustrations are attentive to the shape and design of the clothing worn and designed by Lowe, and they glow with a honeyed light that underscores the designer’s persistence in the face of racial prejudice. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Abigail Samoun, Red Fox Literary. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/09/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism

Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos. Holt, $22.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9835-8

Collaborating as their subjects did, Aronson and Budhos (Sugar Changed the World) vividly and intimately recount the story of pioneering war photojournalists Robert Capa (1913–1954) and Gerda Taro (1910–1937). Writing in the present tense to heighten the sense of being there, the authors focus primarily on the period when the photographers’ professional and personal lives were almost completely intertwined, from soon after their meeting in 1934 Paris to Taro’s death in Spain three years later. Capa and Taro, Jewish immigrants with leftist leanings from Hungary and Germany, threw themselves into the Spanish Civil War with idealism, talent, intuition as photographers, and an exceptional willingness to take risks. Their photos—whether of fleeing civilians, snipers, refugees, bombed buildings, or soldiers—conveyed an immediacy never previously achieved and established a new standard for war reportage. The authors’ analyses of the Capa-Taro relationship and the influence of their photographs on journalism are particularly strong; they conclude with the 2007 rediscovery of 4,500 negatives lost since the 1940s. Numerous reproductions of Capa and Taro’s work appear throughout, along with maps, a timeline, and other resources. Ages 12–up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 12/09/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights: From the Vote to the Equal Rights Amendment

Deborah Kops. Calkins Creek, $17.95 (216p) ISBN 978-1-62979-323-8

Born in 1885, 65 years after Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul may be a lesser-known warrior for women’s suffrage but, as Kops unequivocally reveals in this thorough biography, she was no less passionate or determined. After recapping Paul’s Quaker childhood in New Jersey and her college years at Swarthmore, Kops (The Great Molasses Flood: Boston, 1919) steps up the pace as she follows Paul to London. There the gutsy Paul studied social activism, joined the ranks of protesting suffragettes, and was jailed for the first of many times. Her zeal for women’s voting rights ignited after she settled in Washington, D.C., where the suffrage campaign “was Alice Paul’s life” and “she fired on all four cylinders.” The author convincingly recreates charged episodes as Paul and her colleagues picketed Woodrow Wilson’s White House and endured unlawful arrests, sentences in jails and workhouses, and hunger strikes—all building to the eventual passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. Archival photos and quotes culled from Paul’s correspondence, her contemporaries’ observations, and the press further illuminate the life of this indefatigable crusader. Ages 11–up. Agent: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Literary. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/09/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Another Castle: Grimoire

Andrew Wheeler, illus. by Paulina Ganucheau. Oni, $15.99 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-1-62010-311-1

Princess Misty of Beldora has no interest in marrying a prince; she wants to live life on her own terms. But the marriage Misty’s father has in mind for her is put on hold when she is captured and taken to the neighboring kingdom of monsters, Grimoire, where she is to marry its immortal ruler, Badlug the Terrible. Going home isn’t an option until she has sought revenge on Badlug for killing her mother, and Misty’s tenacity quickly wins her an eclectic band of allies, including Gorga, a kindhearted gorgon attendant, and Fogmoth, a gay gargoyle whose ex happens to be heir to the throne of Grimoire. Wheeler delivers a feminist fantasy adventure that overturns genre conventions at every opportunity, and his diverse cast of humans and monsters underscores underlying themes about prejudices and unfair assumptions. Sharp-witted banter entertains throughout, but Wheeler also slips in deeper considerations about the authority rulers wield and what true sacrifice looks like. Ganucheau contributes some thrilling and bloody action sequences, and her candy-colored palette, suffused with bright pinks and purples, is an inspired touch, just one more way this story subverts expectations. Ages 13–up. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/09/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Yvain: The Knight of the Lion

M.T. Anderson, illus. by Andrea Offermann. Candlewick, $19.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5939-4

Anderson’s (Symphony for the City of the Dead) clever, nuanced recasting of Chrétien de Troyes’s Arthurian legend blends archaic courtliness (“May God hear you”) with modern clarity (“Oh, dry up”). Young knight Yvain, banished from the castle for breaking his promise to his wife, the noble Laudine, retreats into the forest: “There was a storm in his head so violent that he did not know who he was.” Emerging chastened and transformed, he seizes the chance to stand as champion for Laudine’s servant Lunette, hoping to redeem himself in his lady’s eyes—only to find that his opponent is his cousin Gawain. Along the way, he rescues innocents from monsters and evildoers with the help of a lion whose life he saved. Offermann’s (the Thickety series) sequential artwork provides a thrilling, nonstop barrage of swordplay, gallantry, and magic; her battle scenes pulse with life, especially when the lion comes to Yvain’s aid. Throughout, Anderson teases out the story’s dark undercurrents, in which friends can be foes, and every emotion conceals its opposite: “I tell you, hatred and love may live cramped together, crouching in the same heart.” Ages 12–up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 12/09/2016 | Details & Permalink

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A Good Idea

Cristina Moracho. Viking, $18.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-451-47624-1

The summer after her senior year of high school in New York City, Finley returns to her Maine hometown certain that the drowning death of her best friend, Betty, was murder. As Fin searches for the truth, she must untangle Betty’s lies; confront the young man, Calder, who confessed to but wasn’t convicted of the killing; and face her own demons and deceptions. Bisexual Finley is a strong and troubled heroine, exploring her own identity through a new relationship with a girl named Serena, their shared link to Betty, and an intense and disastrous pull to longtime friend and lover, Owen, who has started dealing drugs to keep his family afloat. Against this dramatic backdrop, Fin must reconcile how far she’s willing to go to protect the people she loves with the small-town politics that allow Calder and his father, the mayor, to do the same. The result is a powerful look at moral gray areas and the fluidity of forgiveness. Moracho’s (Althea & Oliver) characters are realistically and heartbreakingly flawed, and her fast-paced, windy narrative presents new wrinkles at every turn. Ages 14–up. Agent: Brianne Johnson, Writers House. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/09/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Free

Lauren McLaughlin. Soho Teen, $18.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-61695-731-5

Trying to make 30 days in juvie go by as quickly as possible, 16-year-old Isaac West learns surprising things about himself in this emotionally charged novel from McLaughlin (Wishing Day). A slick thief whose racially mixed background only adds to his sense of being an outsider, Isaac started stealing to provide for his younger sister, Janelle, since their mother is more concerned with drinking and other unsavory pursuits. He moved on to boosting cars and ended up in the Haverland Juvenile Detention outside Boston after taking the fall for a job that turned violent. The center is akin to a small war zone, with rival gangs rumbling in the cafeteria, but group therapy sessions become a place for Isaac to both listen and unlock a part of himself as the members write out their “crime stories” for the others to perform—it’s the most macabre theater class ever. McLaughlin never shies from her characters’ difficult backstories or the crimes they committed, giving teenagers that society often thinks of as broken a chance to speak, in their own voices. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/09/2016 | Details & Permalink

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10 Things I Can See From Here

Carrie Mac. Knopf, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-399-55625-8

Everyone tells Maeve that things will be fine, but they don’t know what it’s like to have an anxiety disorder, to visualize possible disasters constantly. Spending six months in Vancouver with her father and stepfamily is terrifying for nearly 17-year-old Maeve—she could die on the way, for one thing. Even after arriving safely, she finds cause for worry. Her father may be drinking again, the home birth her pregnant stepmother is planning is risky, and being around Salix—the girl she likes—is nerve-racking. But to Maeve’s surprise, Salix likes her. Even more surprising: when some of Maeve’s fears come to pass, she’s upset, but not helpless. Mac (The Way Back) is good at showing how a dread-filled mind works and how Salix, whom Maeve sees as wholly confident, also has to fight nerves. Mac’s not interested in villains: there is no evil stepmother, no homophobia. Instead, the struggles are internal, like Maeve’s anxiety and her father’s relapse, and relational, as people try to forgive and be honest with each other. The result is a low-key but affecting story. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/09/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Daughter of the Pirate King

Tricia Levenseller. Feiwel and Friends, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-09596-1

Levenseller makes an impressive debut with this funny, fast-paced, and romance-dashed nautical fantasy, set in an alternate world of pirates, sirens, and myriad islands. Alosa, the 17-year-old daughter of an infamous pirate king, embarks on a dangerous undercover mission, allowing herself to be captured by a rival crew in order to retrieve part of a legendary treasure map. Alosa believes she has the situation under control thanks to years of training and experience, as well as certain special abilities, but she finds her match in the Night Farer’s first mate, Riden, who seems wise to her tricks. The resulting game of wits results in a burgeoning attraction, as Alosa tries to carry out her mission without giving away her secrets (“If I’m to keep up appearances, I’ll have to escape the ship. Then get caught on purpose. Oh, the ridiculous things one has to do when one is a pirate,” she laments). Resourceful and confident, Alosa swaggers through the pages with style and panache, and her supporting cast is just as delightful. This one’s not to be missed. Ages 13–up. Agent: Rachel Brooks, L. Perkins Agency. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/09/2016 | Details & Permalink

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