An excellent beginner’s resource for biography, U.S. history, and women’s studies.

DOROTHEA'S EYES

DOROTHEA LANGE PHOTOGRAPHS THE TRUTH

This brief, illustrated biography explores how the life of pioneering photojournalist Dorothea Lange influenced her art.

Although the oil-pastel depictions of human bodies are at times distractingly awkward, the mostly autumnal palette complements the text as it teaches about its subject’s (called Dorothea throughout) difficulties: polio, poverty, paternal desertion, and eventually, a family opposed to her “unladylike” choice of profession. After an excellent red-and-black spread depicting Dorothea’s darkroom, the returning tawny colors work equally well to conjure the Great Depression. Throughout, boldly red-inked sentences suggest what apparently drove Dorothea from her lucrative, private portrait practice to become the sole woman on FDR’s team of documentary photographers: “Dorothea sees with her eyes and her heart,” and “Her heart knows all about people the world ignores.” Interestingly, the text introduces the idea of “invisibility” as a photographer’s asset. It also stresses Dorothea’s perseverance despite her “forever-withered leg” and makes a clear, egalitarian stand about her subjects: “They are good people in real trouble.” Backmatter reproductions of Lange’s photographs greatly enhance the story. 

An excellent beginner’s resource for biography, U.S. history, and women’s studies. (author’s note, bibliography, resources, timeline) (Picture book/biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62979-208-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark.

ANTSY ANSEL

ANSEL ADAMS, A LIFE IN NATURE

This distillation of the photographer’s life and achievements focuses on his “antsy” youth and early influences.

A distracted, sickly student, Ansel reveled in nature along the beaches near his San Francisco home. He blossomed after his prescient father withdrew him from formal schooling, enabling home tutoring and such experiences as a season ticket to San Francisco’s 1915 world’s fair. Effectively employing onomatopoeia, Jenson-Elliott reveals 14-year-old Ansel’s pivotal experience at Yosemite. On a family trip, “Ansel got his first glimpse of Yosemite Valley—the ripple-rush-ROAR! of water and light! Light! Light! It was love at first sight.” In Yosemite, his parents gave him his first camera, and “he was off— Run-leap-scramble—SNAP!…Ansel’s photos became a / journal of everything he saw.” The final five double-page spreads compress 60-plus years: photography expeditions in Yosemite, marriage to Virginia Best, Adams’ government-commissioned work documenting the national parks, and the enduring importance of his photographic record of the American wild lands. Hale’s collages blend traditional and digital layering and include cropped photographic images such as Adams’ childhood home and wood-paneled station wagon. Her stylized depiction of Yosemite’s Half Dome and decision to render several iconic photographs as painterly thumbnails display a jarring disregard for Adams’ lifelong absorption with technical and visual precision.

There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark. (biographical note, photographs with note, bibliography of adult resources, websites) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-082-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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