With sensitive text and powerful illustrations, Say brings this remarkable, inspiring life to poignant reality.

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SILENT DAYS, SILENT DREAMS

An imagined biography in words and pictures of the self-taught white artist James Castle.

James Castle was born in 1899 on a farm in rural Idaho, “deaf, mute, autistic, and probably dyslexic.” Using interviews, written biographical material, and Castle’s own drawings as guides, Say, writing in the voice of Robert “Bob” Beach, Castle’s nephew, offers a sensitive portrait of a person compelled to draw despite abuse and lack of drawing materials. Considered “ineducable” by the principal of the Idaho School for the Deaf James attended from ages 10 to 15 (he also told James’ father not to let him draw), James used burnt matchsticks, soot mixed with his own saliva, and scrap paper to draw in secret. When Beach showed some of Castle’s drawings to his art professor, the professor, impressed, arranged an exhibition. More exhibitions followed, and Castle moved into a used trailer—by far the nicest studio he ever had. It’s a small but deep triumph that this misunderstood, determined artist became discovered by the art world during his lifetime. “I think he was happy,” narrator Bob says of this period, and it’s a wistful note that Say’s illustrations—some in Castle’s own style, some darkly black and white, and some in color—give heartfelt resonance to.

With sensitive text and powerful illustrations, Say brings this remarkable, inspiring life to poignant reality. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 8-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-92761-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

From the They Did What? series

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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A standout among writing guides, valuable for its sage and friendly encouragement and for the sheer fun of hanging out with...

WRITING RADAR

USING YOUR JOURNAL TO SNOOP OUT AND CRAFT GREAT STORIES

Advice on writing from one of the best writers around.

“I’m a writer and I’m on your side,” Gantos says, as if he’s putting an arm around a young writer’s shoulder and guiding them through a door to a new life. With a snappy voice, his own funny ink drawings, and expertise drawn from a career full of great books, he covers just about everything: where to find ideas and characters, how to structure a story, why to keep a journal, and even what to write with. Every step of the way he includes examples from his own writing. As humorous as he is, Gantos is authoritative and serious about his craft, careful to include every building block for constructing a good story—characters, setting, problem, action, crisis, resolution, and the need for a double ending (physical and emotional). Chapter 2 (“Getting Started”) ought to be read by all teachers and parents: it’s a manifesto on how to raise a reader (and writer) by reading aloud excellent picture books to young children and placing good books in the hands of children as they get older, and he offers a handy list of just what some of those books should be. While his list of picture books is not a particularly diverse one, the middle-grade titles suggested are nicely inclusive.

A standout among writing guides, valuable for its sage and friendly encouragement and for the sheer fun of hanging out with Jack. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-30456-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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