I AM AMELIA EARHART

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The ever-popular pioneering female pilot gets a breezy and very incomplete biography.

Meltzer gives Amelia a first-person voice and, in a very sketchy narrative laced with comic-book speech bubbles, presents her as a dare-devil tomboy. The flying bug hits her when she goes up for a flight with Frank Hawks at the age of 23. She tries her hand at different jobs to earn money for flying lessons; Meltzer, writing too glibly, calls stenography, one of those failed efforts, a “fancy-schmancy word.” As Amelia makes her solo trans-Atlantic flight, she shouts, “This is AWESOME!”—a word no doubt intended to resonate with contemporary readers but unlikely to have occurred to Earhart at the moment. The text concludes with an exhortation to “Never let anyone stop you. / Whatever your dream is, chase it. / Work hard for it.” There is nary a mention of her final, disastrous around-the-world flight and disappearance over the Pacific. Eliopoulos’ digitally rendered art is cartoon in style, with Earhart resembling a bobblehead doll and wearing an aviator hat and goggles. The audience for this mixed-up comic/bio is not at all clear. Given its incomplete information and lack of source material (an actual quote from Earhart is unreferenced), there is no justifying calling it a biography. Nor is there enough entertainment to call this a comic book.

Skip. (photographs) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4082-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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A TREE IS NICE

A nursery school approach to a general concept. "A tree is nice"- Why? Because..."We can climb the tree...play pirate ship...pick the apples...build playhouses out of the leaves. A tree is nice to hang a swing in...Birds build nests in trees... Sticks come off trees...People have picnics there too"...etc. etc. One follows the give and take of a shared succession of reactions to what a tree- or trees- can mean. There is a kind of poetic simplicity that is innate in small children. Marc Simont has made the pictures, half in full color, and they too have a childlike directness (with an underlying sophistication that adults will recognize). Not a book for everyone -but those who like it will like it immensely. The format (6 x 11) makes it a difficult book for shelving, so put it in the "clean hands" section of flat books. Here's your first book for Arbor Day use- a good spring and summer item.

Pub Date: June 15, 1956

ISBN: 978-0-06-443147-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1956

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A memorable life—a forgettable presentation.

I AM JACKIE ROBINSON

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Baseball’s No. 42 strikes out.

Even as a babe in his mother’s arms, Robinson is depicted wearing his Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cap in this latest entry in the Ordinary People Change the World series. He narrates his childhood alongside cartoon panels that show him as an expert runner and thrower. Racism and poverty are also part of his growing up, along with lessons in sharing and courage. Incredibly, the Negro Leagues are not mentioned beyond a passing reference to “a black team” with a picture of the Kansas City Monarchs next to their team bus (still looking like a child in the illustration, Robinson whines, “Gross! Is this food or goo?”). In 1946, Branch Rickey signs him to play for the Dodgers’ farm team, and the rest, as they say, is history. Robinson concludes his story with an exhortation to readers to be brave, strong and use their “power to do what’s right. / Use that power for a cause that you believe in.” Meltzer writes his inspirational biography as a first-person narrative, which risks being construed and used as an autobiography—which it is not. The digitally rendered cartoon illustrations that show Robinson as a perpetual child fall sadly short of capturing his demeanor and prowess.

A memorable life—a forgettable presentation. (photographs, timeline, sources, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4086-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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