AKIRA TO ZOLTÁN

TWENTY-SIX MEN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD

In a companion to Amelia to Zora (2005), Chin-Lee selects an alphabetical array of men for the same treatment—a two or three paragraph biographical précis that includes a childhood incident, a description of important accomplishments and a pithy quote. Though such usual suspects as Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela are in the broadly international lineup, so are plenty of surprises (as you’d guess from the title), from filmmaker Akira Kurosawa and composer Zoltán Kodaly to Pashtun leader Badshah Abdul Ghaffa Khan, poet Octavio Paz, athlete Greg Louganis and bandleader Xavier Cugat Mingall. Using cut-paper shapes and paint, Halsey and Addy add stylized but generally recognizable figurative or symbolic portraits for each—posing Frank Lloyd Wright against a glittering stained glass window, for instance, but substituting a cello for Yo Yo Ma, and a dog and a bell for Ivan Petrovich Pavlov. Though most of these men are no longer active, or even living, and not all “changed the world” to quite the same degree, they’re still worth knowing. (source list) (Picture book/collective biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-57091-579-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2006

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At its best when the emphasis is on the skill and artistry of Mime’s most accomplished practitioner—alas, too much of the...

MARCEL MARCEAU

MASTER OF MIME

The legendary mime is introduced to a new generation, though not entirely successfully.

As a child, Marceau loved to silently entertain his friends, like his idol, Charlie Chaplin. During the Nazi occupation of France, Marcel and his brother took on new identities in the French Underground, where they forged documents for Jewish children and helped many to escape to Switzerland. Spielman assumes that her young audience will understand references to deportation and concentration camps; unfortunately for those that don't, her matter-of-fact tone speaks more of adventure than deadly peril. Her tone subtly changes when she lovingly describes Marceau’s training and development as a mime and his stage persona of Bip the clown, admiring his skills in the “art of silence” that won him international renown. But here too, comparisons to the Little Tramp and Pierrot may be outside readers’ frame of reference. Though the illustrations carefully complement the textual content with period details, Gauthier’s cartoon faces are all nearly identical, with only the screen image of Chaplin and Marceau’s Bip having distinctive features. A double-page spread at the conclusion provides photographs of Bip in action and is the only clear indication of Marceau’s stagecraft.

At its best when the emphasis is on the skill and artistry of Mime’s most accomplished practitioner—alas, too much of the book looks elsewhere. (Picture book/biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7613-3961-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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The story’s focus on Gabe, as cranky and independent as his human, makes for a surprisingly accessible introduction to the...

GABE

A STORY OF ME, MY DOG, AND THE 1970S

Just as Steinbeck took Charley on his travels, teenage Gill went with Gabe: “Home was where your friends were, so Gabe and I became each other’s home.”

More in search of a satisfactory place to settle down than some nebulous America, Gill recalls leaving home at 17 and meeting the blue merle husky mix that became her canine companion in a first aid tent at a 1972 Rainbow Tribe festival in Colorado. From there, the two hitchhiked to New Orleans, then onward across the country before fetching up, ultimately, in Alaska. As a late, glancing reference to marriage and divorce indicates, Gill leaves a lot out, but what she includes strings both simple adventures and emotionally complex moments one after another into an episodic but loving tribute. She describes living in the French Quarter, where “overdoses and pistol-whippings by the police were common,” losing her beloved dog and then being joyfully reunited, raising a litter of husky pups abandoned by their mother, and, in later years, running an Iditarod and finally holding Gabe in her arms as old age takes him. The tale is printed on full-bleed color paintings that add considerably to their vividness by centering on the author’s independent, confident-looking figure and on a dog that, as often as not, is posed with teeth bared in a feral snarl.

The story’s focus on Gabe, as cranky and independent as his human, makes for a surprisingly accessible introduction to the 1970s for middle graders. (afterword) (Graphic memoir. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-57091-354-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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