An engaging portrait of a fascinating woman.

HELEN KELLER

From the She Persisted series

This entry in the She Persisted series provides a detailed look at the life of Helen Keller.

Helen Keller was born in rural Alabama in 1880. After suffering a severe illness as a toddler, she lost both her sight and hearing, leaving her isolated and unable to communicate with those around her. Her parents secured help for her when she reached the age of 7. Anne Sullivan was sent from the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts to attempt to educate Helen. Sullivan would remain Keller’s companion for decades, accompanying her as she campaigned around the world for individuals who were disabled. This short work features Flint’s cheerful black-and-white cartoonlike illustrations; unfortunately, they don’t always match tonally with moments depicting Keller’s early struggles. The few brief paragraphs per spread explain the major details of Keller’s life, provide some insight into the difficulties she faced, and highlight the impact she had on the world. Although print is large and there is plenty of white space, some of the vocabulary seems fairly sophisticated for those just transitioning to chapter books. Although Sheinmel’s efforts are necessarily constrained by the nature of early chapter books, this one largely succeeds, partly due to the exceptionally inspirational topic. The series will include 12 other female subjects. With the exception of two children on the cover, all characters in this book are depicted as White.

An engaging portrait of a fascinating woman. (references, online resources) (Biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11568-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A galloping marvel—enlightening and entertaining.

DR. SEUSS'S HORSE MUSEUM

A succinct introduction to art history via a Seussian museum of equine art.

This posthumously published text recently discovered in Ted Geisel’s studio uses horse-focused art pieces to provide historical context to artistic movements. Showing art ranging from the Lascaux cave paintings to an untitled 1994 sculpture by Deborah Butterfield, Joyner’s playful illustrations surround the curated photographs of art pieces. By using horses as the departing point in the artistic journey, Seuss and Joyner are able to introduce diverse perspectives, artifacts, and media, including Harnessed Horse from the northern Wei dynasty, a Navajo pictorial blanket titled Oh, My Beautiful Horses, and photographs by Eadweard Muybridge. Questions to readers prompt thought about the artistic concepts introduced, aided by a cast of diverse museumgoers who demonstrate the art terms in action. Joyner further engages readers by illustrating both general cultural and Seussian references. Glimpses of the Cat in the Hat are seen throughout the book; he poses as a silent observer, genially guarding Seuss’ legacy. For art enthusiasts, some illustrations become an inside joke, as references to artists such as Alexander Calder, Salvador Dalí, Marina Abramovic, and René Magritte make appearances. Thorough backmatter contains notes on each art piece referenced along with a study of the manuscript’s history and Seuss’ artistic style. Absent, probably unsurprisingly, is any acknowledgment of the Cat’s antecedents in minstrelsy and Seuss’ other racist work, but prominent among the museumgoers are black- and Asian-presenting characters as well as a girl wearing hijab and a child who uses a wheelchair.

A galloping marvel—enlightening and entertaining. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55912-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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An important and inspiring tale well told.

CARTER READS THE NEWSPAPER

This biography of the “father of Black History,” Dr. Carter G. Woodson, highlights experiences that shaped his passion.

Carter was born after the Civil War, but his parents had been slaves, and he grew up hearing the stories of their lives. With six siblings, Carter experienced lean times as a boy. Carter’s father, who couldn’t read or write, had Carter read the newspaper aloud. As a teenager, Carter had to work to help his family. In the coal mines, he met Oliver Jones, a Civil War veteran who opened his small home to the other men as a reading room. There, Carter once again took on the role of reader, informing Oliver and his friends of what was in the paper—and then researching to tell them more. After three years in the mines, he moved home to continue his education, eventually earning a Ph.D. from Harvard, where a professor challenged him to prove that his people had a history. In 1926 he established Negro History Week, which later became Black History Month. Hopkinson skillfully shapes Carter’s childhood, family history, and formative experiences into a cohesive story. The soft curves and natural palette of Tate’s illustrations render potentially scary episodes manageable for young readers, and portraits of historical figures offer an opening to further discovery. The incorporation of newsprint into many page backgrounds artfully echoes the title, and the inclusion of notable figures from black history reinforces the theme (a key is in the backmatter).

An important and inspiring tale well told. (author’s note, illustrator’s note, resources, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-56145-934-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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