Review of Fascinating: The Life of Leonard Nimoy

michelson_fascinatingstar2 Fascinating: The Life of Leonard Nimoy
by Richard Michelson; 
illus. by Edel Rodriguez
Primary    Knopf    40 pp.
9/16    978-1-101-93330-5    $17.99
Library ed.  978-1-101-93331-2    $20.99
e-book ed.  978-1-101-93332-9    $10.99

Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song” reminds us: “You can spin a dreidel / with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock — both Jewish!” Michelson delves a little deeper in his picture-book biography of Spock-portrayer Leonard Nimoy, focusing on Nimoy’s upbringing in an observant Jewish household in Boston, his rise to fame on Star Trek, and the backstory behind that famous “Live long and prosper” Vulcan hand symbol (repurposed by Nimoy from, fascinatingly, a Jewish prayer gesture). We learn about young Lenny’s early jobs (newsboy, door-to-door salesman, cab driver), his steady acting work pre–Star Trek, and his interest in photography from an early age (in later life, Nimoy became a noted fine-art photographer; author Michelson was his gallerist). Michelson’s text is warm and anecdotal. Nimoy passed away in 2015, and according to the appended author’s note, “the last conversation [they] had was about this book.” Rodriguez’s unfussy illustrations, in sepia browns and out-of-this-world blues, reflect both the time period and the Trekkie universe. The closing image of Nimoy as Spock — pointy ears, straight-across haircut, angled eyebrows — is iconic without being imitative. An unadorned, scientific-looking sans serif font is the logical choice.

From the January/February 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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