I AM WALT DISNEY

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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The right stuff for children with the stars in their eyes.

THE STARS BECKONED

EDWARD WHITE'S AMAZING WALK IN SPACE

A look back at a child who loved to look at the stars and grew up to become the first U.S. astronaut to walk in space.

In Wellins’ rhymed narrative, and also Dawson’s views of a wide-eyed child and then man looking up and out in nearly every scene, biographical and technological details take a back seat to expressions of a bright and enduring sense of wonder—so that whether it was his mom or, later, Houston telling White it was time to cut the stargazing and come back inside, he always went “so slow…so slow.” The author ends by underscoring his attachment to family (“Moons and stars / are lovely places, / but not as nice as / children’s faces”), reserving mention of his tragic death in the Apollo 1 fire for the closing historical note. The astronaut and his family are White in the illustrations, but most of the figures placed around him as an adult at NASA and elsewhere are people of color. Readers will have to look elsewhere, in more-developed profiles of the Apollo missions or the late Kathleen Krull’s Fly High, John Glenn, illustrated by Maurizio A.C. Quarello (2020), for instance, for rounded pictures of the early space program’s heroes; White himself comes off here as a cardboard figure, but the main story is really the heights to which his profound fascination with the night sky led. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 85% of actual size.)

The right stuff for children with the stars in their eyes.   (timeline, photographs) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11804-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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An important contribution to this volatile chapter in U.S. and Mexican American history

SOLDIER FOR EQUALITY

JOSÉ DE LA LUZ SÁENZ AND THE GREAT WAR

In 1918, José de la Luz Sáenz left his teaching job and enlisted in the United States Army, where he joined thousands of other Mexican American soldiers.

“He wanted to demonstrate that Mexican Americans loved America and would give their lives fighting for it,” writes Tonatiuh. Luz felt that the white people of Texas would start treating Tejanos (Texans of Mexican descent) fairly after seeing their sacrifice. Once in France, Luz taught himself French and was assigned to the intelligence office to translate communications, but he was not given credit or promotions for this vital work. After the war, he and other Tejano veterans found prejudice against them unchanged. They organized and became civil rights leaders. In 1929, 10 years after the end of World War I, they formed the League of United Latin American Citizens. Together they fought against school segregation, racism, prejudice, and “for the ideals of democracy and justice.” The author’s insightful use of Sáenz’s war-diary entries boldly introduces this extraordinary American’s triumphs and struggles. In Tonatiuh’s now-trademark illustrations, Luz crouches with other stylized doughboys in French trenches as shells explode in no man’s land and mourns a fallen fellow Mexican in a French cemetery. Extensive backmatter includes an author’s note, war timeline, timeline of LULAC’s successful civil rights lawsuits, glossary, and bibliography.

An important contribution to this volatile chapter in U.S. and Mexican American history . (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3682-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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