THE LEGEND OF STRAP BUCKNER

A TEXAS TALE

Strap Buckner was one of the original Old Three Hundred to settle Texas with Stephen Austin, and legend rose around him to compete with his serious size. He’d thump a welcoming hand on the back of a fella and send him sprawling. Here, Wooldridge (Wicked Jack, 1995, etc.) and Glass (Mountain Men, p. 659, etc.) concoct a truly larger-than-life character who wallops every man he meets, every time, always with “great grace,” if tinged with a touch of bombast and bravado. Wooldridge has an excellent way with words: “ ‘It is ever thus with a man of genius,’ he lamented. ‘To be misunderstood, shunned, avoided by the common folk of the world!’ ” This after his townspeople start to fade into the shadows whenever he appears. Glass depicts Strap in oafish counterpoint to Wooldridge’s windbaggery, with an unruly mop of red hair and a ponderous gut. Strap moves from town to town, ultimately to be circumvented every time, until his better side advises him to seek peace and forsake his genius to clobber. “But the devil never can let a man’s good resolve go unchallenged.” Soon Strap is hurling a dare to fight all comers—and readers are ready to see the boaster come down a peg or two. The Infernal Fiend takes up Strap’s offer—“He saw pride in Strap’s eyes and heard the echo of it in Strap’s boast”—and succeeds in taking the tar out of Strap. A robust and high-humored version of the Strap Buckner legend, full of the over-the-top yarning now associated with Texas. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-8234-1536-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.

IMAGINE

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A resplendent masterpiece.

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DREAMERS

Based on her experience of leaving Mexico for the United States, Morales’ latest offers an immigrant’s tale steeped in hope, dreams, and love.

This story begins with a union between mother and son, with arms outstretched in the midst of a new beginning. Soon after, mother and son step on a bridge, expansive “like the universe,” to cross to the other side, to become immigrants. An ethereal city appears, enfolded in fog. The brown-skinned woman and her child walk through this strange new land, unwilling to speak, unaccustomed to “words unlike those of our ancestors.” But soon their journey takes them to the most marvelous of places: the library. In a series of stunning double-page spreads, Morales fully captures the sheer bliss of discovery as their imaginations take flight. The vibrant, surreal mixed-media artwork, including Mexican fabric, metal sheets, “the comal where I grill my quesadillas,” childhood drawings, and leaves and plants, represents a spectacular culmination of the author’s work thus far. Presented in both English and Spanish editions (the latter in Teresa Mlawer’s translation), equal in evocative language, the text moves with purpose. No word is unnecessary, each a deliberate steppingstone onto the next. Details in the art provide cultural markers specific to the U.S., but the story ultimately belongs to one immigrant mother and her son. Thanks to books and stories (some of her favorites are appended), the pair find their voices as “soñadores of the world.”

A resplendent masterpiece. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4055-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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